Have I mentioned lately how much I love pasta and noodles? That I could eat it at least four times a week without getting sick of it even though I very easily and quickly get sick of dishes if I have them too often? Of course I have, it’s me we’re talking about!
At first it was too think and clunky, then it was too watery. Whether I used a roux, processed tofu or early versions of mediocre vegan cheese, it was good but it wasn’t quite right. Thus began my Goldilocks method of perfecting my vegan alfredo sauce.
Today I kept it simple with this vegan chicken alfredo made with Naturli brand breaded schnitzel, which includes this particular dish in the easy vegan recipes column. Pop the schnitzel in the oven until crispy and sizzling, let it rest while you take care of everything else.
If you think making vegan alfredo sauce from scratch couldn’t possibly qualify as ‘easy’, think again. Even the recipe list on this bad boy is fairly simple.
We all know how much I love salads and Buddha bowls (get my vegan sushi bowl recipe here). I can eat them just about every single day of the week without eating the same thing, or getting sick of them. But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not always trying to improve a recipe or improvise on existing recipes. The possibilities are endless and it’s important in general, but especially when you’re trying to eat clean and healthy, that you keep things fresh.
It’s easy to get sick of eating anything, but that is especially true of healthy, whole foods that aren’t fatty and addictive, that aren’t made to keep you coming back for more. So it requires some effort, not a lot, but some.
So a while back my niece made tabbouleh for me and the husband since we’re the only two vegans in the family. She was adorable, at fourteen years old, making this dish for us. So proud of herself and I was too, honestly. And when I was in need of a new vegan salad recipe, I thought back to Alex and her tabbouleh.
This is technically tabbouleh, but not in it’s traditional way. This is how vegans fancy up a simple salad.
Before we even begin, I’ll let you know that chickpeas aren’t a traditional ingredient in tabbouleh and I, of course, omitted the oil. Those are the major changes I made so if you’re still interested, keep reading for a unique twist on tabbouleh salad.
If you’ve visited this blog on more than two or three occasions you already know that I am a HUGE fan of international cuisine. I love Asian food the best of all, from fried rice to curry to vegan katsu, but I am also a fan of Mexican food, Cuban, Hungarian and German too. Pretty much, I am a fan of world cuisines, which means I am always on the look out for something that I haven’t tried.
I once ate vegetable stew and Palinca (Romanian spirits) inside a restaurant in Poiana Brasov that was FILLED with animal furs and horns and skulls. Yuck, I know, but the truth is that you’d be hard-pressed to find a restaurant without these particular decorations in the mountain regions of Romania. The stew was good, if plain, because this is not a part of the world that caters to eaters who don’t consume animals.
In fact, you’d find it difficult to find a place unlike this in Hungary too.
But I’m a culinary adventurer so I always like to see what new dishes I can go home and veganize.
Lately though, I haven’t done a lot of traveling so I have to rely on the beauty of the internet to take me away and this week it took me to Afghanistan. Whoa, right?
Well I started simple with a dish that was–relatively–easy to veganize. Afghan rice pilaf, called Kabuli Pulao.
If you’re interested, Google the dish name and you’ll see just how much it relies on animals, so making it vegan was truly a challenge.
This dish has a relatively simple list of ingredients, especially for vegans. Start with replacing the lamb, which for me meant TVP (textured vegetable protein) because it’s the most versatile. Then you’ll need rice, carrots, raisins (yuck, I skipped this part), onions, cardamom and almonds. I also skipped the almonds, for calories but also because I didn’t have any on hand.
Whether you’re having a birthday or anniversary party, Super Bowl or Australian Open party, you’ll need to be able to feed a crowd. Feeding a crowd a bunch of vegan appetizers is easier than you might think, as long as you stop thinking of party food in traditional ways.
The first party I threw after going vegan was to celebrate Wimbledon (Hello, I am a tennis nerd! :P) and I was thinking like an animal eating party thrower. My mind immediately went to things like meatballs and buffalo wings, spinach & artichoke dip and all those other party snacks filled with dairy and flesh. No bueno.
As time went on, I became more comfortable just thinking about vegan appetizers and ways to veganize old school party foods. That was (almost) five years ago and now, I feel like a pro.
I mean, I’m not a pro but I feel less stressed when making food for a crowd. Then again that could be because I haven’t attended many crowded events for…some time now.
Feeding a mixed crowd of vegans and non-vegans isn’t something I worry about. Why? Because my husband and I are both vegans and so is our household. If you come to our house, you should expect to be served vegan food. Period.
But you know what? Even if it’s just you and your family, however big or small that is, vegan appetizers are a great way to have a snack fest all day on special days. This particular spread of vegan party food was for me and the hubs on New Year’s Eve.
I know, I know. As a certified carb-a-holic, it seems crazy to cook a meal without rice or noodles or pasta or…whatever. But sometimes you’re just too lazy, especially on workout days and you just want something quick and easy that tastes good.
Enter this super fast lazy vegan dinner. And the best part? If you need more sustenance, add a baked potato or a side of rice, like I did for this lazy vegan mashed potato bowl.
The second best part? You can switch this up use a vegan burger with corn on the cob, vegan sausage with roasted carrots or whatever meat alternative and vegetable you want.
This might not be lazy enough for some of you, but I promise that this meal will be done before your delivery order arrives at your front door. Don’t take my word for it, just test it out.
When it comes to making a one pot vegan dinner, few dishes are easier or tastier than jambalaya. And my favorite part of making a good vegan jambalaya is that there are just so many options. You can switch out meat alternatives like vegan chicken and vegan sausage and use beans. Or multiple types of beans. Or even go with tofu or tempeh, the choice is yours are there are so many of them.
You can switch up the different types of rice available at your local markets, switching up basmati for jasmine, wild rice or black rice or even red rice. Just remember that different grains mean different cooking times and you’ll have to adjust your vegan recipe to suit that.
You can even turn your jambalaya into a Cajun style casserole with or without cheese, or even topped with your favorite spicy peppers.
Since this is a one pot vegan recipe, you will have focus on prep before you do anything else, so if you’re a spontaneous sort of home chef who grabs this and that from the cabinets at the last minute, prepare yourself for a lot of “oh crap” and running to stir to prevent things from sticking to the pan.
I know this is going to seem a little odd since The Spicy Spatula focuses mostly on vegan food and vegan recipes, but that’s really only because my passion for cooking has never waned from living on animal products to giving them the boot from my life. I love to cook and I have since I was a little bitty girl watching both of my grannies whip up their favorite Southern recipes.
But being vegan, or rather living vegan isn’t just about the food you eat. The same way that I lost weight, by changing my entire lifestyle so that eating healthy and exercise were just a regular part of my life, that’s also how I live as a vegan. It took some time and A LOT of label reading but it has become a habit, I am happy to report.
So how do you level up your vegan-ness for 2022?
What Vegan Means To You
Being or going vegan is a personal choice that has a far-reaching impact, not just on animals and the environment, but your own body as well so choose what that means to you. Do you strictly consume a vegan diet or does that overlap into other parts of your life?
The choice is yours.
Do your best to be kind and compassionate as well as a good steward of the earth, and if you can do it without breaking your bank account or your enjoyment in life.
How You Can “Live” Vegan
This one is a hard one for those who still consume animals because they have no idea just how pervasive the dreaded milk powder can be in everything from potato chips (I’m talking to you Pringles) and pasta sauce and plenty of other things that under normal non-addictive circumstances wouldn’t have milk in them at all.
But when it comes to non-food products, living vegan means you need to look out for glycerin, mostly derived from animal fat. It is in lotion and face creams, body wash, soaps and SO. MANY. THINGS.
This was the biggest shocker to me when I adopted a vegan lifestyle, realizing just how much we rely on animals for everything, and unnecessarily so.
Read the labels. The best way to know what items are vegan and which are not, is to read your labels. Even if an item isn’t labeled as vegan, you can tell because ingredients lists will go out of their way to add in phrases like “soy based” or “plant derived” when it comes to glycerin.
And good news for you, it is usually one of the first 5 ingredients listed.
Know your animal products. Research is king when it comes to figuring out what some of those ingredients actually are. I won’t go into great detail in this, but if you’re interested, PETA has a good starter resourcehere. If you really care, you have to be willing to do the research to know that you are being the best vegan you can be.
Find vegan or vegan-friendly products. Let’s not be naïve here, the vegan market is a heavily emerging one which means lots of cash for those who care to target this particular demographic so it’s not too hard to find them in most major cities. But, maybe you want to give your hard-earned money to a company that caters specifically to vegans, it helps to know who they are (and to pass that news along to fellow vegans).
That isn’t always possible. Right before the pandemic hit, we were visiting family in Romania and that is where we still are, and outside Bucharest there aren’t a lot of choices for vegan products that fall into the non-food category.
Before Romania, I lived in Germany which–who knew?–prepared me a lot for life in Romania. So many of the products come from Germany or Austria (an interesting history lesson another time. If you’re interested tell me in the comments), which made it easy to be able to read the German ingredients. And it also helps that Berlin is one of the biggest vegan hotspots in Europe. My point? Alverde was my very first and still much loved vegan products for things like face wash, moisturizer, lotion, eye cream, toothpaste, hand soap and body wash. They even make makeup and lip balm, shampoo, face wipes, foot cream…a lot.
I love this brand because they offer just enough variety that I can switch up scents, but not so many that it’s overwhelming. But Alverde does fall on the pricier side of things, so when I found out that the drugstore brand started to offer vegan products earlier this year I was super excited. Not excited enough to just buy them, mind you, but I did stand in the aisle and meticulously go through the ingredients list before I tested out a few products.
And later, I went back and got more stuff. Why? Because the price differential was…significant. But they still have the best options for lip balm as far as I’m concerned.
Ask. Sometimes all you have to do is ask. Just because there is a lot of vegan hate around, doesn’t’ mean that cashiers and managers haven’t fielded these questions before. Sometimes it’s all in a label but sometimes it’s just a simple stamp that says “Vegan” on the back of the packaging.
Not Just Skin Care & Body Wash
Since there wasn’t much happening in 2021 and I couldn’t get much traveling done, I did something else. I found a fully vaccinated and English-speaking tattoo artist and I got myself some ink.
I found out by asking that yes, they do use vegan friendly ink (Intenze, Starbrite, Micky Sharpz & Yakuza) and have several brands, but my ink was Eternal which is vegan-friendly. For the after-care ointment, you should ask ahead of time because you’ll need it the day you get inked and you don’t want to waste time looking for it. But this is also one of those times where you have to decide if you want to ruin your hard-earned ink or get what’s recommended by the professionals.
My advice? Call ahead of time and ask what aftercare creams and ointments they sell so you can look up the ingredients list. Depending on where you live, you might have to buy it online ahead of time, so do your homework and do it early!
After Inked is a vegan brand of aftercare cream and there are many others to research before you get your vegan ink.
What Are Your 2022 Vegan Goals?
Simple. Be a better, more conscientious vegan than I was in 2021. Do more to stay healthy, to help the animals and the environment. Just that.
With the holidays right around the corner, many vegans will have a tough choice to make. Should I make a side diesh to bring to family dinner and risk that no one will eat it, or should I just show up and hope for something more to eat than salad and dinner rolls?
Not gonna lie, it can be a difficult choice, made much easier by everything else that’s going on. You could opt to stay home and still make enough food to feel a small army and thereby negating your need to cook for a few days.
Either way, I have a few options that are mostly easy, totally delicious and not too time consuming to make.
Okay guys, so I have just discovered the easiest, peasiest Asian style vegan dinner recipe on the planet. Maybe discover is a strong word, but I happened upon a few similar recipes that were decidedly not vegan and decided that they had the makings of a super delicious lazy vegan dinner.
Why lazy? Well, put simply, the past couple years have been exhausting. Not only did we move to a place with limited vegan food options right before 2019 got under way, but the only improvements in my small-ish town have been in terms of vegan options at the grocery store.
That means more cooking. More experimenting with vegan recipes. More time in the kitchen.
Which I love.
But it would be nice, every once in a while, to go out where someone else does the cooking. Where there are appetizers and cocktails and maybe even dessert before the bill.
But that’s not on the table unless we schlep all the way to Bucharest which…no.
So, anyway…here is yet another lazy vegan recipe. Gochujang spiced vegan chicken & rice.
When I say easy vegan recipe, I mean emphasis on EASY. The ingredient list in this recipe is short and sweet.