You might know Chef Chloe Coscarelli from her 2010 Cupcake Wars victory or her drool-worthy Instagram account. She's been a vegan for 17 years and she knows a thing or two about making delicious plant-based food. 

Fortunately for us, Coscarelli was kind enough to share some of her words of wisdom for home cooks looking to incorporate more vegan meals into their repertoire. 

Easy Swaps for Beginning Vegans 

One thing Coscarelli told me was that you don't have to become completely vegan overnight. It can be a gradual process, and she suggested a handful of vegan items you can incorporate into the foods you already love. 

Milk Alternatives

With so many dairy alternatives on the market, that it’s hard not to find one you like. Some companies even make dairy-free coffee creamers, premade lattes, and heavy cream.

“I love using non-dairy milk instead of regular milk,” Coscarelli said. “That’s like the easiest swap ever. So if you’re used to making your coffee with like, half and half, try a vegan creamer. I love oat milk, I love hemp milk. Those are two of my favorites right now.”

Cheese Alternatives

The dairy alternative brand Daiya makes five flavors of vegan cheeze shreds in addition to their other offerings.

“I have like a full fridge stocked of Daiya cutting board collection shreds which is their new shreds made of chickpea protein,” Coscarelli said. “Sometimes I keep them in the freezer to have like an extra stash when my refrigerated stash runs out.”

Coscarelli uses the cheese for nachos, quesadillas, mac&cheese, and lasagnas. “Basically anything where you need that like ooey, gooey, melty, nostalgic, cheesy taste and texture,” she said.

Meat Alternatives

chocolate, cake
Kimberly Kao

For anyone who is interested in replacing meat in some of their recipes, but isn’t quite sure if they like meat alternatives such as tofu or tempeh, Coscarelli recommends using mushrooms.

“If I’m making ... anything that requires ground meat, I love just mixing up different types of mushrooms whether it’s oysters, shitake ... Sometimes I process them in the food processor, and you get that amazing meaty texture but you don’t have to worry about having any of that animal fat."

How Coscarelli Starts Her Day

Avocado Toast

I think it’s safe to say that Coscarelli wins breakfast. One of her weekday go-to’s is avocado toast on sourdough bread.

“I usually mash up avocado and put some veggies on top,” Coscarelli said. “Sea salt, chili flakes, lemon. I like to make my toast a little more elaborate, piled up high, whether it’s shaved radish or cucumber, or microgreens. But I do love starting my morning with beautiful avocado toast.”

Tofu Scramble

On the weekends, Coscarelli pulls out all the stops when making brunch.

“I love doing tofu scramble with some sort of vegan bacon or sausage with a side of either pancakes or waffles,” Coscarelli said. “For tofu scramble, I love crumbling up tofu, sauteeing some mushrooms or veggies and then I do love putting the Daiya shreds, like tossing them in at the end, so it kind of gets like a melty, cheesy woven throughout ... almost kind of reminds me of like a cheesy omlette type-thing that’s a super easy brunch,” she added.


If you have access to a blender, a smoothie can be a simple and healthy way to start the day.

“I think just if you can keep some different kinds of veggies in your freezer, even like leftover kale or spinach or broccoli from a dinner you’re making, chop it up, freeze it, throw it in your smoothie in the morning, Coscarelli said. “That’s where you can bring in either oat your milk or your hemp milk. My secret ingredient for smoothies is vanilla extract. I think that is like a fun, zero calorie-free way to just step it up a notch.” 

How Coscarelli Ends Her Day

Cheezy Baked Vodka Rigatoni 

No dairy, no problem. Using the Daiya cheeze, Coscarelli came up with an easy recipe for a cheesy baked vodka pasta dish.

“I actually ended up making it using just a can of crushed fire-roasted tomatoes, which is an amazing product that gave that nice deep tomato flavor,” Coscarelli said. “Instead of blending my own type of cream or cheese, I just use a little bit of coconut cream from a can as well as the Daiya mozzarella shreds from the cutting board collection. And I’m surprised that it actually came together on the first try. It was so easy.” 

Red Wine Cake

Arielle Gordon

To end the day, you don't even need any dairy alternatives. Wine will do the trick here. 

“I had a little little bit of red wine leftover but it wasn't quite enough to serve with dinner — it was only like about a cup, and so I made a chocolate cake out of that with the leftover red wine,” Coscarelli said. “It was so rich and it has amazing flavor and depth from the wine. So instead of using dairy in the cake batter, like some people might do, I actually used wine, and it was fantastic.”

I just had to try it, you know, for research purposes, and I can confirm that a red wine cake is in fact the perfect solution to any leftover wine woes.

Thanks so much to Coscarelli for sharing some of her vegan tips and tricks with us! You can follow her on Instagram @ChefChloe for more vegan inspo!