IOWA Magazine | 03-13-2020

Vegetarian Cookbook Helps Busy Families Eat Healthy

Henry B. Tippie College of Business alumna Jenn Sebestyen, a food blogger and mom, releases The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook.
Skillet Chickpea Chilaquiles PHOTOS COURTESY JENN THURMAN SEBESTYEN Skillet Chickpea Chilaquiles

Jenn Thurman Sebestyen didn't think much about what she ate. Then she became a mom.

Jenn Thurman Sebestyen Jenn Thurman Sebestyen (98BBA)

"It wasn't until my son was born that I started to change my diet," says Sebestyen (98BBA), a University of Iowa Henry B. Tippie College of Business alumna and mother of three who lives in the Chicago area. "I knew I didn't want to one day feed him the same food garbage that I had been eating, and I had to set a good example. I started reading all I could about healthy diets and discovered that, for me, a plant-based diet was the way to go."

In 2012, Sebestyen launched the Veggie Inspired food blog to share recipes and other tips for families to incorporate more fruits and vegetables into their meals. "I never really intended for anyone other than my mom and a few friends to see it, but I needed an outlet that didn't involve changing diapers and nursing babies," she says. "Before long, people from around the world were viewing my blog, and I quickly learned that there was a huge market for plant-based recipes."

Sebestyen has since appeared on The Doctors talk show and published her recipes online for major magazines such as Redbook and Better Homes & Gardens. She recently released her first book, The Meatless Monday Family Cookbook, which includes hearty, meat-free recipes—such as these chickpea-based nachos with saucy southwest flavors (at right).

Follow Veggie Inspired on Instagram

Watch kids taste-test Jenn Sebestyen's healthy mac 'n' cheese recipe on The Doctors.
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1 can (15 ounces) chickpeas, rinsed and drained (or 1˝ cups cooked chickpeas)
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 yellow onion, diced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1 can (28 ounces) crushed tomatoes
1 1/2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
8 ounces unsalted corn tortillas chips (about 8 cups)

Pour the rinsed and drained chickpeas out on a cutting board and chop them up a bit. Alternatively, you can add them to a food processor and pulse a few times. Set aside.

Heat the olive oil in a large, deep skillet over medium heat. Add the onion and sauté for 5 to 6 minutes until soft and translucent. Add the garlic, chili powder, cumin, and oregano and sauté for 1 minute until the spices are fragrant. Add the chickpeas, corn, crushed tomatoes, and salt and simmer for about 10 minutes until hot.

Add the tortilla chips to the skillet and gently stir to coat.

Serve immediately with your toppings of choice.


  • BEST Guacamole (recipe in cookbook) or store-bought guacamole, or avocado slices
  • Creamy Cumin Ranch Dressing (recipe in cookbook) or store-bought southwest ranch dressing
  • Thinly sliced radishes
  • Diced white or red onion
  • Chopped fresh cilantro

TIP: Serve immediately for crispy chips. If you like the chips softer, wait 5 to 10 minutes for the tortilla chips to soak up the sauce.

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