Easy Vegan Dinner Recipes ~ Chickpea Masala

Life as we know it under normal circumstances is…a distant memory. You know that as well as I do, and as such, we have all been doing the best we can as often as we can. For the purposes of today’s blog, that means making sure you get a good chunk of whole foods in your vegan diet.

When was the last time you ordered/cooked a meal without soy or seitan? How about the last time you cooked a meal, period? Or one that consisted mostly of vegetables, grains, beans and/or legumes? It’s not a judgment, believe me. Some weeks I have to really go through the photos to find a meal without pasta or tofu or vegan burgers. It happens and I’ve forgiven myself.

Have you?

Good because today we have a quick and easy vegan chickpea masala for those nights when you just need something simple, whole and plant based to eat.

The chickpeas are the main source of protein in this, but the good thing about a plant based, vegan whole food diet is that you get tons of essential vitamins and nutrients from ALL of the ingredients.

To get this vegan dinner started, you start with the onion, ginger and hot chili peppers. If you’re using oil, add that into the pan, otherwise look the vegetables cook until fragrant, adding water or waste-free broth a little at a time.

Add the garlic along with any herbs and spices such as: cumin, turmeric, curry, smoky paprika, garam masala seasoning and chili powder. Stir until well coated and then add the chickpeas (rinsed & drained) and cherry/grape tomatoes or just canned crushed tomatoes which is what I used, because this was a day before shopping meal for us.

Add some broth and bring the mixture to a boil, stirring regularly so it doesn’t stick. You want to let this liquid reduce a little so the end result is thick and creamy.

Simmer for 15 to 20 minutes.

Add coconut milk (for cooking) at the last five or so minutes, making sure to taste as you go and adjust for flavor preferences.

Serve on a bed of rice and that’s a pretty darn quick and easy vegan recipes, perfect for lunch or dinner.

If you need a little extra spice, jalapenos or Sriracha will do the trick, but my hubs thought it had a nice little kick to it, emphasis on little.

The other thing I loved about this vegan chana masala? It’s super calorie friendly, even with the creamy coconut milk added to it.

This is for one serving but ingredients list is chickpea masala for 2.

Quick and easy and delicious, so next time you’re in need of a whole food vegan meal, consider hitting up your pantry for that can of beans you haven’t used in forever and toss’em in a pot.

Twice Cooked Vegan Gobi Manchurian

As you guys know, my love for all forms of Asian cuisine knows no bounds. None. Okay well, I can veganize pretty much anything so I guess–technically–that is a boundary, but the point is that I just love the flavor profiles and I’m always happy to find something new.

Different.

Exciting.

Imagine my surprise when it was my partner’s turn to choose a meal and he chose Gobi Manchurian. I was skeptical at first, not because of the flavors, but because I cringe a little when it comes to anything that is deep fried. I’m not quite at my goal weight yet and I’ve been more relaxed about indulging in the things I love, but all that extra oil is where I draw the line.

Draw. The. Line.

But I’m a trooper. And an experimenter. So I decided to veganize it and healthy it up, and it was a challenge. Though, not as big a challenge as I anticipated, so let’s get to it, shall we?

This recipe had a few moving parts to it, but honestly it was pretty simple. Mostly.

Chinese Takeout at Home for the Lazy Vegan

Most of the time, especially in this strange year we’ve all found ourselves caught in, your desire to have vegan takeout is prompted more by convenience than by taste. Right?

When I lived in Los Angeles and, to a certain extent Germany, there were more than a few takeout places that just had damn good food. But, more often than not it’s the case that the best selling point of the vegan takeout is that I don’t have to cook it. Which doesn’t say much good about you or the restaurant.

But the absolute best thing about 2020 is the abundance of options when it comes to vegan food choices. You no longer have to make your own vegan eggroll wrappers and hope for the best, now you can just buy frozen vegan eggrolls, vegan potstickers, dim-sum, or whatever your favorite vegan Chinese takeout is, and make it yourself!

And that’s just what we did. Quick and easy vegan fried rice with tofu and vegetable gyoza.

We kept it simple with vegetable fried rice and vegan potstickers, but if you’re in search of more, don’t skip the frozen section of your local market because even here in Romania, they are always adding new vegan options to their shelves.

Vegan Meatball Stew & Creamy Polenta

Nothing is better than a nice stewy dish when the weather is cold, and let me tell ya, the weather here has been COLD!!!

I was really in the mood for a hearty vegetable stew but my partner wanted me to make creamy polenta so I split the difference and added a lot less broth and served it on top of polenta. With the help of Beyond Burger vegan meatballs.

Picnic Style Vegan BBQ Buddha Bowl

With the weather turning cold and 2020 being the year that never ends, I was in the mood for something simple to remind me of those times when he weather was nice, when you could outside and have a picnic without worry, when you could just go…outside.

And I just got a new tablecloth and it’s so picnic-y that I just couldn’t resist!

And when you want something healthy with a splash of something less than healthy, vegan Buddha bowls are an excellent choice. Just remember to add: protein, carbs and loads of veggies.

It looks really good, I know, but this is also a very calorie friendly vegan meal, and if you need to cut a little more, I recommend cutting the corn on the cob in half.

The tofu was seasoned and popped into the air fryer for about 10 minutes giving it a crisp & crunchy taste that was perfect with the rice and broccoli.

The corn was par boiled in salted water and then seasoned before it went into the oven for about 15 minutes and I kid you not, it tasted like street food corn, minus the loads and loads and loads of butter.

The broccoli received the same treatment as the corn, only less time in the oven and it was delicious, but I am also a huge fan of broccoli so…yeah.

The best thing about a meal like this is you can easily turn it Mediterranean by switching up the spices, maybe rubbing pesto onto the corn. Add ginger and garlic and garam masala for an Indian taste. Or whatever flavor profile you want because herbs & spices are what makes food taste GOOD.

The point is that you can do what you like because it’s your kitchen and your body, and anything that makes it easier to make healthy vegan meals is what we should all be doing.

What’s your go to meal when you need to change your mood?

Vegan Takeout At Home ~ General Tso’s Soy Strips

I don’t know where you guys are in the world or what you’re options are for takeout but here in Romania, the answer is NONE. As in no options whatsoever and that goes double if you’re vegan. There are a couple of options at a nearby sushi joint and this restaurant that is both Italian and Asian, both of which are just plain mediocre.

Why am I telling you all of this? Not just for sympathy, that’s for sure.

Just kiddin’, you can sympathize if you want but you don’t need to since we just ate some pretty kick ass General Tso’s vegan chicken…or soy strips. Call it what you want but this was a delicious way to enjoy an old childhood favorite without the suffering.

Or the strangers cooking our food right now.

I’m not gonna lie to you here, the ingredients list on this dish is pretty damn extensive, but that doesn’t make it difficult to make. Lots of Asian dishes require a variety of salty-sweet-bitter-tangy-spicy combinations that contribute to the deliciousness that is Asian cuisine.

For this vegan General Tso’s recipe, I’m just gonna paste the ingredients list straight from Cronometer because I already had to enter there and that was traumatic enough. Okay, it wasn’t all that bad but I’m feeling lazy and I need to get back to writing so bear with me. Please.

The first thing you need to do is “marinate” the soy curls once you’ve rehydrated them, which means you should make the sauce first. That means adding half the garlic & ginger, soy sauce, vinegar, sambal, mirin and starch into a bowl. Whisk it and add the soy curls to it. Set aside.

Rinse, dry & chop whatever vegetables you want for this vegan Asian recipe. I went with basic veggies like carrots, bell pepper, onion, mushrooms and a few florets of unused broccoli but you can add zucchini or squash or whatever veggies your little vegan heart desires.

I went oil free for this recipe but you can use it if you like and if you do, add the oil, ginger and garlic first. Otherwise add everything but the garlic into the skillet and cook until the veggies start to brown. Pick the marinated soy strips from the sauce and toss into the pan. Cook until crispy around the edges, but you can always pop them into the air fryer instead.

Pour the rest of the sauce over the veggies until its nice and thick. Serve over a bed of rice, and no tipping required!

I decided not to put the vegan strips in the air fryer this time because I was curious to see how the marinade worked and let me tell ya, it was incredible! Straight through to the center you could taste the grated ginger & garlic, the soy sauce and even the mirin. This was the first time I’ve had any version of General Tso’s in a good long while and, not to pat myself on the back, but I did a damn good job.

“Two thumbs up!” ~ The Husband

If you want this dish more saucy, just add more water with the soy sauce and if you want it thicker, increase the water-cornstarch ratio. And feel free to substitute whatever you want instead of soy strips. Chickpeas or mushrooms will work well, or any other vegan option you prefer.

Beyond Meatball & Brussels Sprouts Shepherd’s Pie

This is a pretty simple vegan recipe, especially if you’re already familiar with the ins and outs of making vegan Shepherd’s pie. You’ll need: protein, vegetables and of course…MASHED POTATOES!!!

This isn’t one of my own creations but I saw something similar on the internet and then a few weeks later the market actually had a good batch of Brussels sprouts, which honestly had been looking a little sad and depressing for the past few weeks. And even better, they were small enough to accommodate this kind of dish.

If you think you don’t like Brussels sprouts then you’re probably not cooking them right, but I highly recommend this easy vegan recipe to re-introduce you to the tiny cabbage cousin.

The ingredients list for this vegan shepherd’s pie is pretty easy:

Beyond Burgers (2)
Potatoes
Oat & almond milk (no sugar)
Vegan butter
Brussels sprouts
Vegan mozzarella

That’s it. Sounds too simple, right?

There’s no such thing but this is a quick and easy weeknight vegan dinner, ya know, if you’re looking for one.

The photos for this particular meal weren’t all that exciting, but that’s just because the meal is so simple and compact.

Step 1: Clean the Brussels sprouts and mark a little ‘x’ in the bottom, then boil about 3 minutes or until softened. They don’t need to be cooked all the way through, just enough to get the cooking process started since they will finish in the oven.

Step 2: Grab the Beyond burgers and season with salt, pepper, smoky paprika, minced garlic and ground cumin. That will make them plenty flavorful, but add whatever herbs & spices you prefer. Form them into bite sized balls and pan fry or drop in the air fryer for a few minutes. Feel free to add sautéed onion to this and combine the vegan balls, sprouts and onions before it’s time to put everything in the oven so the flavors meld together beautifully.

Step 3: Clean & chop the potatoes and bring them to a boil. When properly softened, mash with plant milk and vegan butter until smooth. Add vegan mozzarella and you’re all set.

Step 4: Assemble. We opted for individual glass ramekins but you could totally put this into a casserole dish and serve it family style.

Step 5: Bake.

Step 6: Eat.

It’s just as easy as that, I swear!

If you want to cut calories from this 700 calorie vegan meal, here are a few tips:

Omit the vegan butter, using some of the starchy water from the potatoes to get the same smooth, creamy texture.

Use one Beyond burger for the vegan meatballs and increase the Brussels sprouts.

Take out the vegan mozzarella altogether. It’s just there for flavor but mashed potatoes don’t need no stinkin’ vegan cheese to taste good!

If you try this meal out, I’d love to see photos! Hit me up on Facebook or Instagram!

Creamy Vegan Indian Butter Cauliflower

This week has been pretty hectic–sorry I skipped Wednesday–but I really wanted to share yet another delicious cauliflower recipe for vegans. Everyone loves to joke about the ‘glow up’ cauliflower has had lately but if you loved cauliflower back when there was just steaming, roasting, sauteeing options, you’ll love this vegan take on butter chicken.

If you’ve ever eaten at an Indian restaurant you’ve probably seen butter chicken on the recipe and thought, “Butter & chicken? No thanks.” And then you tasted it and your world was absolutely rocked.

Am I right?

Well preapare yourself for this super creamy vegan version of Butter Cauliflower.

The ingredient list on this meal is pretty simple:

Cauliflower
Jasmine rice
Tomato paste
Coconut milk (creamy, but feel free to get coconut cream if your waistline can afford it!)
Peanut oil
Onion
Ginger
Cornstarch (or tapioca starch)
Coconut oil
Garlic
Spices: turmeric, smoky paprika, yellow curry powder, garam masala, ginger powder, salt & pepper

The reason there are two types of oil on the ingredient list is because my partner loves our air fryer and decided to give the cauliflower a little crisp before tossing it on the creamy vegan coconut sauce. It takes about 15 minutes on 200C/180F in the air fryer.

Melt the coconut oil over medium heat and add garlic & ginger until it starts to brown and becomes fragrant. This is about when my hunger usually kicks in. Toss in the onion and cook until it starts to soften, about 5 minutes then add the spices (turmeric, garam masala, etc…) and cook for another 1 minute.

Add tomato paste an coconut milk, but if you don’t want this too thick or you want it more soup-like, mix it with water. Otherwise, cook until the sauce starts to thicken and reduce a little, about 15 minutes or so. Then toss in the crispy cauliflower and serve it on a bed of rice, turmeric in your rice is totally optional.

You can serve this with noodles if you want to give it an Asian flare, or just get creative with your grains and use bulgur or couscous. Whatever floats your boat.

As I mentioned earlier, thanks to the creamy coconut milk, this is a fairly decadent vegan dish as far as I’m concerned, but it was crazy delicious. Below I’ve posted the calorie content of this vegan meal for two, courtesy of Cronometer, which I use to track my meals, snacks, booze and anything else I put in my mouth and you really should too!

What’s your favorite Indian dish to veganize?

vegan salad recipes

Supreme Vegan Salads

We all know the jokes about vegans eating nothing but grass or lettuce or any other leafy green, right?

To a certain extent that’s true for this vegan, but that’s because once you open your mind, salads are damn good. They aren’t just delicious though, they are also packed with vitamins and nutrients that keep you healthy and beautiful! Besides all that, you plenty of natural fiber to keep everything in working order.

Let’s not forget, for those of us looking for a calorie friendly way to satisfy our appetite, salads are super calorie friendly!

So yeah, we vegans definitely know how to do salad right.

vegan salad recipes

Of course you can always make salad with pretty much anything you want, but I prefer to add a bit of beans & grains for a little heft to go along with all the fresh, raw goodness of traditional salad veggies.

My go to salad ingredients are: lettuce, tomato, scallions, cucumber, radishes, olives & sprouts

If I’m feeling creative or if I have some extra time I’ll add shredded carrots, apples, cranberries, fennel, artichokes, sun dried tomatoes or kohlrabi. The point to making delicious vegan salads for lunch or for dinner, is to get creative. Don’t be afraid to test out a vegetable you think you don’t like or don’t know how to cook. You have your phone, never be afraid to whip it out in the middle of the grocery store and type in “how to cook/eat” a particular food item. Phones are tools too, people!

vegan taco burrito bowl

Another thing I love about salad? Adding lettuce to an otherwise super caloric meal is an awesome cheat. Feel like tacos or a burrito? Add the all fixings on a bed of lettuce and you can eat it guilt-free, in addition to cruelty free! And with the addition of grains, you can easily turn a taco salad into a taco bowl…and you can even add your favorite vegan cheese too!

One of my favorites is a Chipotle style burrito bowl and you can make it so many times without repeats!

Feeling too lazy to make a big ol’ dinner? Mix your lettuce with some shredded cabbage to fill you up and toss in fifty grams of cooked tofu or TVP and you’ve got a vegan chicken salad that will satisfy your appetite.

I have a cabinet filled with vinegar and there’s always veggiegurt (vegan yogurt) in my fridge for salad because some days I feel like a vinaigrette and others I want something creamy. The options are endless, so the next time someone cracks a joke about vegans eating nothing but lettuce, sit back with a smug smile knowing they if they knew what you now know about salads, they’d be halfway to changing their lives!

creamy vegan pesto salad dressing

And if you find yourself running out of ideas, consider some of your favorite dishes butt salad-ized! (Is that a word? If not, it totally should be!)

Think about it, pasta salad…nix the pasta and add lettuce instead. Take your favorite antipasti ingredients and toss it with a cup or two of Romaine, Spinach or Arugula, whatever tickles your taste buds.

Check out this soy & steak fries salad!

Eating healthy and eating vegan NEVER ever means you have to have a boring meal. All you need is a bit of desire and tons of creativity.

Pofta buna!

Takeout Friday – Vegan Kung Pao Cauliflower

I know we just did a cauliflower recipe last week but sometimes you just have to make do with what the market provides, and sometimes the market provides…cauliflower.

That’s one of the amazing things about being vegan and doing our Midnight Tokyo Diner meals, as long as you have food, you have a fun recipe that can be whipped up into something fantastic. So, that’s what I told the Hubs, “baby make me Kung Pao Cauliflower.”

And he did.

Under normal circumstances this wold seem like a really complicated dish to veganize, but ignore the long ingredient list and focus on taking it one step at a time.

What you’ll need:

Cauliflower
Wild basmati rice
Ginger
Cashews
Peanut oil
Garlic
Soy sauce
Onion
Red bell pepper
Breadcrumbs
Cornstarch

To get your cauliflower crispy enough that it doesn’t get soggy when the sauce is added, mix the cornstarch with the breadcrumbs and bake it or add it to your air fryer. If you don’t care about oil, you can fry it up in a skillet.

Cook up the onions, ginger and garlic, adding soy sauce and water once you’re ready to make the sauce. If you need to thicken it, add a teaspoon each of cornstarch and water. Serve on top of rice on along side it. Sprinkle chopped cashews on top and you’re good to go.

This vegan Kung Pao recipe is fairly easy and quick, but it has multiple components so it can be intimidating. Don’t let this vegan dish pass you by!

What’s your favorite Asian takeout dish to vegan-ize?