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"Just be who you are, calm and clear and bright." - Richard Bach, Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah

Cooking Mexican with Nina Hayes

Last Thursday night I had the great pleasure of taking a cooking class with Nina Hayes, whom I’ve mentioned on the blog before—she took Main Street Vegan Academy last year, we connected on Facebook after I moved to Boston, and now I take her Jivamukti class fairly regularly. I’d taken yoga with her that morning, so it felt like an all-day veganfest! There were four of us in the group, and everyone was very relaxed and friendly—a perfect environment for learning.



Nina shows Rosie how to mix the tamale dough.


I know my way around the kitchen and don’t feel too intimidated by new techniques, but not being intimidated is not the same thing as being enterprising enough to learn something new. Most of the time I fall back on the same recipes just out of a lack of time or planning. So a class like this is worthwhile not just for the veg-curious—it’s useful for someone more confident and established in her veganhood, too.

Here’s the menu—all recipes Nina developed herself:

  • spiced squash and bean tamales
  • chipotle sour “cream” (made with cashews)
  • seasoned kale chips with fresh guacamole
  • Aztec chocolate mousse pie with coconut cream

Notice how she managed to put this meal together without any processed faux dairy products! Daiya and Tofutti are great for special occasions or when you’re short on time, but ideally you’d whip up a healthier version from scratch, and Nina made it feel totally doable.



Tamale filling: butternut squash, leeks, pinto beans, garlic, and spices.



I’m a little ashamed to say that before Thursday night I thought a tamale was a type of pepper.



Jamie prepares the graham cracker crust for the chocolate mousse pie.



You leave your cashews to soak overnight. (These are for the chipotle “sour cream.”)



Two tamales and I was stuffed!



Guacamole and kale chips. (Spooning rather than dipping, needless to say.)



Aztec chocolate mousse pie with a graham cracker crust and coconut cream. What I love about this dessert is that it’s rich but not too sweet. You can eat a whole slice without feeling like you’ve overdone it (although the slice I brought home with me lasted at least three sittings, because a few spoonfuls at a time really did satisfy me.)


We used Nina’s Vitamix for both the chipotle sauce and chocolate mousse, which got me REALLY excited to have one of my very own. My mom and sis—generous souls!—are buying me one for a birthday/Christmas present. Granted, I still don’t have a kitchen of my own, but it’ll be great even just to take it out of the box and use it once a week. As much as we love juicing, making smoothies with a high-powered blender is even healthier because you keep the fiber! I’m also looking forward to making coconut cream using Nina’s recipe and tricks for my Thanksgiving desserts (an upside-down pear gingerbread cake and pumpkin pudding).

If you’re in the Boston area, you can subscribe to Nina’s email newsletter on her website to find out when she’s offering her next class. Highly recommended!

2 Comments to Cooking Mexican with Nina Hayes

  1. Kate's Gravatar Kate
    November 28, 2013 at 2:02 pm | Permalink

    I’m intimidated by making creams/sauces from cashews, but you’ve inspired me to try!

    This all looks so delicious! I would love the recipes!

  2. December 1, 2013 at 9:00 am | Permalink

    Wowee! All the food looks amazing. I love tamales but have never made them myself as it looks so complicated.

    I am sooo excited for you that you are getting a Vitamix! I can’t wait to see what you do with it. You’re really going to enjoy it.

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Hi! I'm Camille. I only write stories that could never ever happen in real life, though I do believe in real-life magic. If we were in the same room I'd fix you a cup of tea, but for now we'll have to settle for a virtual connection. I'm really glad you're here.