We get it; you’re on a diet but craving your fave comfort foods like ice cream and chicken noodle soup. With our new food series, #NotCheating, we’re turning these cheat-day dishes into compliant recipes. If you’re dabbling with gluten-free, vegan, keto, paleo, Whole30, or other plans, allow these takes to curb your hankerings healthfully.

Autumn activities can be challenging for those of us on a special diet, no matter if it’s born out of preference or necessity. It might seem difficult to fully participate in the fun when you’re constantly dodging the dairy, gluten, or meat products. If you’ve gone vegan, the stadium is an animal protein haven with burgers and brats galore. Yikes. Instead, get your friends and family in on your fun by making them these awesome potato skins, complete with all the fixings. These are fully-loaded and yummy beyond the average potato skin (we aren’t biased or anything). Non-vegans just might end up preferring these to the alternative. Just saying. They’re that good.

Spoiler alert: The secret here is the spicy cashew-cream sauce; you’ll want it on just about everything. It’s better than sour cream, and that’s saying a lot. The lime adds a fresh tang and lightness to an otherwise pretty rich base. And the smokiness of the chipotle only serves to accent the “bacon,” the other stunner of the dish. With just a couple of savory seasonings and a hot oven, you can transform shiitakes into truly meaty and bacon-esque toppers.

Vegan loaded potato skins with chipotle-lime Cashew Cream and Shiitake “Bacon”

(Serves 4-6 as hors d’oeuvres)

Recipe Note: For the best cashew cream, soak the cashews overnight in at least double the amount of water. But in a time crunch, pour boiling water over cashews and soak for at least a couple hours. The cashew cream can be made ahead of time and stored in the refrigerator for up to a week.

Ingredients:

  • 4 russet potatoes
  • about 4 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup raw cashews, soaked overnight (or see recipe notes)
  • 1/2 cup fresh water
  • 3 limes, zested and juiced
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon chipotle powder
  • 10 ounces sliced shiitake mushrooms
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons tamari or soy sauce
  • 1/2 tablespoon garlic salt (Lawry’s is the best)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1-2 cups Daiya Classic Blend Cheese (or another vegan shredded cheese)
  • 2 scallions, sliced
  • 1 Fresno chili pepper or jalapeñ0, sliced (optional for garnish)
  • 1/2 cup all-natural crispy onions (optional for garnish; not gluten-free)

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Prepare a baking sheet by lining it with parchment paper or aluminum foil.

2. Rub the 4 potatoes with 1 tablespoon olive oil, divided. Place potatoes in oven and set timer for 30 minutes.

3. Meanwhile, drain soaked cashews and place in blender with fresh water, lime zest and juice, salt, and chipotle powder. Scrape down the sides of the canister to ensure proper blending. Remove to a bowl and set aside.

4. Toss the mushrooms with the rest of the oil (3 tablespoons), tamari, garlic salt, and cumin in a medium mixing bowl, until well-coated.

5. When the 30 minutes is up, remove the baking sheet and place the sliced shiitakes on the sheet tray with the potatoes. Bake for another 30-40 minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

6. Remove potatoes to a cooling rack. Remove shiitakes also and set aside. Lower oven temperature to 350°F.

7. Once potatoes are cool enough to handle, quarter the potatoes with a paring knife and slice out the interior, leaving about 1/4-inch-thick skin.

8. Replace quartered skins to the parchment-lined baking sheet previously used. Top skins with your preferred amount of Daiya cheese, put in the oven, and let bake for about 10-15 minutes, or until cheese is melted.

9. Remove skins from oven and top with scallions, shiitake “bacon,” sliced chili, crispy onions, and cashew cream. Serve with extra toppings and sauce for guests to doctor to their liking.

Craving more vegan comfort food? Follow Brit + Co on Pinterest.

(Recipe via Ashley Bare/Brit + Co; photos via Brittany Griffin/Brit + Co)