Her number one tip for healthier cooking? Stop using oil for sautéeing vegetables. Instead, use small amounts of water, lemon juice, broth, wine, or beer — not enough to steam what's in the pan, just enough to make sure nothing burns or sticks (this doesn't work in a nonstick pan).

An equally important tactic, much to my dismay, is to eliminate cheese, which McClay notes has addictive properties (researchers have claimed that cheese produces opiate effects in consumers — not to mention its high levels of cholesterol and fat). Now that I have her nut-sauce recipe in hand, I may be able to get closer to a cheese-less existence.

Not to worry: in McClay's world, even baby steps count. If you sign up for a Modern Vegan cooking class, "I don't expect that you have any intention of going vegan," McClay says. "It's about learning new foods, new things to eat, and ways to incorporate that on a personal level."

Learn more about Modern Vegan and the Wellness Forum on Tuesday, January 29, when McClay hosts a free dinner and discussion at the Masonic Lodge, 102 Bishop St, Portland. Registration is required; call 207.409.7778 or visit portland.wellnessforumrep.com. More information about Modern Vegan cooking classes can be found at modern-vegan.com.

Vegan chipotle nachos with cheese sauce

FOR 'CHEESE SAUCE'

1/2 cup raw cashews

1/2 cup nutritional yeast

1 tablespoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1 teaspoon cayenne

1 tablespoon tahini

1 tablespoon miso paste

2 cups plain almond milk

2 tablespoons cornstarch or arrowroot powder (to thicken)

10-15 slices of jarred jalapeño slices (depending on your tolerance for spice)

Put all the ingredients into your food processor and mix until it forms a liquid. Pour into a medium saucepan and warm on medium heat, stirring constantly. Once the sauce thickens up a bit it's ready to pour over your nachos.

FOR 'NACHO MEAT'

Over medium-low heat, mix together cooked lentils, a bit of oregano, cumin, coriander, and salt, as well as minced garlic, onion, and chipotle pepper, three tablespoons of tomato paste, and a dash of sriracha. Mash with a fork.

Pile lentil mixture on top of yellow corn chips, drizzle with cheese sauce, and dress with guacamole and salsa to your liking.

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