I love Spring and not just because my birthday kicks off the season! Spring weather is kind of all over the place which means there’s usually an opportunity–or two–to whip up a good soup recipe even as the temperature starts to warm up.
Here in Romania the weather has been improving steadily and then BAM, a gray and rainy day which in our house is known as a perfect day for a warm bowl of soup.
Today’s vegan soup recipe is inspired by a Cauliflower Almond Soup I recently had at a local spot, Cafe Natiei. Of course I put a few of my own twists on it but the flavor profile is pretty much as the recipe name indicates, cauliflowers and almonds.
If you’re thinking it sounds weird, well you’re just wrong. Okay maybe it does sound weird but I promise that it was nothing but delicious. Mine and theirs.
Let’s just start this post by me letting you know that yes, I know that charcuterie is a type of butchery and also yes, I am fully well aware that’s not technically the case with todays’ vegan food showcase. I concede all that if you promise not to take everything so literal.
Now that we have that out of the way, let’s talk about what we’ve got going on here today.
My hubs came across this vegan food brand, Rawckers, and because it was mostly vegan cheese products, he was, of course, intrigued. You see, he loves cheese. Unlike me who kind of lost my taste for it after going vegan, The Hubs is still going strong with his cheese love, so give him an option for cashew cheese and he’s all aboard the cheese train.
And best of all? He even had a plan for it. A plan that only required a little input on my part, which in Wife Land we call the best plan of all!
So he made a vegan charcuterie board which we enjoyed a few weeks back while watching UFC. Is that weird? Everyone thinks it’s strange that we were eating vegan food while watching professional combat athletes battle it out in the octagon.
Personally? I felt both fancy and savage, thank you very much.
Since there’s no cooking required there’s no actual recipe, but we’ll talk about…something.
It’s November and you know what that means, vegan Thanksgiving recipes! I don’t always celebrate Thanksgiving now that I’m living outside the United States because it took me a long time to stop glorifying a holiday where one just eats all day. There’s no judgment here but I was–and still am–working on eating in a healthier, more balanced way and Thanksgiving wasn’t helpful to that.
Until last year when I shared an American style Thanksgiving meal, all vegan of course, with my in-laws. They loved it and since I didn’t go crazy and making a dozen and a half dishes, it feels like I’ve come far enough to enjoy Thanksgiving dishes…just not all at once.
Last year was the first time I made a decent cornbread dressing and so you know that I had to try it again so that I could make it even better, and y’all, I think I did it.
If you’re curious about my First Vegan Thanksgiving meal, click here.
Now, where was I?
Vegan cornbread dressing, which you can’t have without cranberry sauce so let’s get down to it!
So today’s post will be a quick-ish one but I just had to share another new find from Filgud…vegan pastrami!
I found this on the day I found the vegan caviar and as soon as I saw it, I made a beeline to the bread section to find some type Rye or Pumpernickel bread. I have very fond memories of this sandwich at real delis in Chicago and Boston and I couldn’t wait to recreate it and–cross my fingers–hope the pastrami had that delicious herb-y, pepper-y pastrami flavor.
I have to say that the Filgud vegan pastrami did not disappoint. It had the exact right flavor profile and my only complaint, if you can call it that, was that the strips were a little too thin. I ended up tearing a few strips which made for less pretty photo.
Sandwich. Salad. Soup. Those are pretty much your lunch options, especially if you work in an office or anywhere outside the home, right?
Sandwiches don’t necessarily mean fast food burgers or other greasy, deep-fried sandwich options. Sometimes, I prefer a grilled veggie sandwich with balsamic dressing, or a nice deli sandwich. If I’m feeling super creative/hungry, I’ll whip up a tomato and vegan ricotta sandwich.
Today, I’m going a little exotic with Bahn mi, which is basically a Vietnamese sub sandwich. My noodle obsession is pretty well documented but I have been known, on occasion, to indulge in a sandwich when I hit up any Asian restaurant. This vegan bahn mi sandwich is easy to make, healthy and delicious.
I paired the sandwich with a salad because it’s always nice to have something raw and crunchy each day, and also because the bread is plentiful in calories but not necessarily all that satisfying to get you through an afternoon of writing, editing and researching.
Use your favorite fresh veggies for the salad, because you’re the one who has to eat it.
I don’t usually post on Fridays anymore because everyone is so busy planning for the weekend there isn’t much interaction but I just couldn’t resist with this easy vegan pizza recipe.
It doesn’t require a whole big thing, in fact that only difference is that I replaced pizza dough with bread.
Mostly because pizza dough is super high in calories and honestly, as good as pizza is, it’s just not worth it. But if you love pizza and want to enjoy it without an 800+ calorie meal, try out the different options at your local bakery, or if you’re like me bakeries.
Enjoy my Friday Night Vegan Pesto Pizza Brot!
This particular vegan recipe included: vegan mince, homemade pesto, bell peppers, onions, shallots & vegan mozzarella shreds.
Sandwiches are one of my favorite foods in all the world. I’m like Joey when it comes to sandwiches, just give me some good bread, tons of veggies, some good sauce like pesto or hummus or dill-veggiegurt and I am a happy camper! And when you find bread that is delicious and low calorie, well it’s like sandwiches are calling my name.
So when my mother in law brought over a bag filled with little ciabatta rolls just 60 grams per roll, I was ECSTATIC! Like Joey-level excited and I knew exactly what I wanted. Spicy TVP, cooked in the air fryer and tossed in a blend of spices & hot sauce.
This recipe is pretty easy as far as vegan lunch recipes go.
I may or may not have shared with you my slight obsession with the TV show Dawson’s Creek. I don’t talk about it much here but if you’ve ever visited my Facebook or Author page, you’ll have seen it. Well I now have an extension to this obsession, which I realize may be too strong a word but if you knew how much I loved Pacey Witter then you’d understand how much Bon Appetit chef Brad Leone reminds me of a grownup Pacey Witter.
Why does any of that matter?
Because I had this conversation recently with a reader and then Brad did this delicious looking roasted tomato and ricotta sandwich which, for obvious reasons, I couldn’t recreate on its own.
So I thought it was a perfect time to share this recipe…and give another shout out to Dawson’s Creek.
So the key to this recipe is the tomatoes. I used vine tomatoes because they looked really good and because I found some really incredible organic rosemary and…well look at it. This is the easy but time-consuming part. Add a bit of oil to the skillet (yes, I know about my oilless stance but I needed to compromise here so I did) and drop the tomatoes and rosemary in as they are. You’ll have to cook them for quite a while, until they start to brown/char a little and maybe even explode.
See the difference? Just cook them until they reach a point you feel they’re tender enough to eat.
While the tomatoes did their thing, I added some garlic and half a yellow chili pepper because they are an important part of the vegan ricotta I tried to make.
So Brad’s original recipe used regular old animal ricotta so I knew I needed to replace it. Somehow. The Google Machine gave me tons of vegan ricotta recipes that used cashews. I LOVE cashews. I’d probably rank them as my second favorite nut behind pecans, but the truth is that I’m still trying to reach my weight loss goals and I just couldn’t do cashew ricotta.
So I got a little creative. Tofu in salty brine water (I used Inedit brand) mixed with vegan cream cheese (Simply V brand). Give them, along with the garlic, lemon juice and chili pepper, a quick run in the food processor until smooth. You might have to add a bit of almond milk or whatever non-dairy milk you prefer. I used roasted unsweetened almond milk so it wouldn’t change the flavor too much.
It didn’t photograph all that well but it was very delicious. I mixed it in a food processor until I got a consistency that satisfied me and that was slightly grainy and smooth.
It’s pretty easy even if it does take more time than a simple vegan sandwich should. It was tasty and well worth the effort, besides I got to share it with you!
Tip: If you need more flavor for the ricotta, add nutritional yeast or vegan Parmesan.
A slightly closer look so you can see all the herbs and green bits added to the ricotta.
And now…the sandwich!
I smashed the tomatoes a little and poured some balsamic vinegar on top and that was it.
Smear the ricotta on your favorite crispy, toasted bread and top with the tomato mix.
All that’s left is to enjoy it…with an ice cold beer, since we’re all still stuck inside and day drinking is totally appropriate.
In a couple of months it will be my 3 year veganniversary and I have to admit that the overall transition was not as hard as I thought it would be. Quitting smoking was harder to do and the body of evidence available at the time was far greater about its harms but for me it was fourth time’s the charm before I kicked that nasty habit for good. Finding out that eggs are as bad as cigarettes for your heart made it easy to give up my morning sunny side up on an everything bagel breakfast. There was no way I’d let eggs get me when I’d already kicked cigarettes.
Anyway now you have context to know that becoming vegan was a lot easier than finding actual vegan meals to eat while traveling. Obviously that depends on where you go and what the vegan population/culture is like there. In Germany you’ll find some pretty good options but not all over. In Romania, I’ve eaten at vegan restaurants in Bucharest and Cluj, otherwise it’s a la cart city.
Which brings me to a recent ski trip to celebrate the release of my book, How Could I Forget, to Poiana Brasov.
This is the view from the small slice of baby mountain where my husband refreshed my ski recollection. We skiied once before in Austria a few years ago but I was about 80 lbs heavier and basically needed to re-learn this sport. This time my legs were smaller which meant I could wear the ski boots all day without excruciating pain. Anyway this was day one. Check in. Change. Rent gear. Ski until the mountain shut down.
Shower. Stretch. Food.
We chose this place, Vanatorul, because they had a vegetable soup (harder to find in these parts than you might think) and a totally vegan mushroom stew. It was a no-brainer.
Fresh sweet potato chips for an appetizer! BUT only because there was no vegetable soup without meat, because apparently that’s something you have to clarify.
Despite burning a million calories on the mountain, we decided to split everything we ordered, including this platter of grilled vegetables. Light green zucchini, eggplant, red bell peppers and a couple mushrooms filled out the platter. It was only about 200 grams of food.
The mushroom “stew” with polenta was completely vegan and pretty good. It wasn’t hot and the mushrooms were soggy but the mamaliga (polenta) made it a hearty choice for the cold town of Poiana Brasov, especially since we walked here from the hotel!
The food wasn’t great but it was good and it was hot and it was vegan, as promised. I gave it a solid B on the food but the Palinca was too strong without enough flavor.
But there was some pretty great art!
Romania has some pretty great traditional/ethnic art like this all over the country. There’s so much detail that I wish my photography skills were better.
Just in case you’re walking and you go too far.
On day two we hit the mountain again, this time the logical part of my brain was in control and I told myself I wasn’t going nearly as fast as it felt. It also helped that The Hubs made me keep my eyes open and focused on him instead of the snow beneath my feet. I managed to get down more than half the bunny slope without falling. Or freaking out. Mostly.
Then I wanted my husband to enjoy the trip too so I sent him up on the gondola to do the entire mountain a time or two while I practiced, which I did. And that means I fell. A lot. Okay just four times but it felt like a lot more. Thank goodness for Zumba, a strong core and affordable ski rental equipment because I only bruised my ego. And my left calf.
Side note: Ask if helmets and other equipment is made with leather or synthetic fibers if you’re all about that #crueltyfreeliving
After a full day of skiing I burned a zillion calories and I was ready to eat.
We walked and walked and walked, finding nothing but side dishes. So we chose a place that offered vegetable soup, for real this time, and we hoped for the best.
The soup was tasty. Well seasoned with a good amount of hot broth. A little oily but the highlight of the meal.
It warmed me right up and primed me for the focaccia bread which was pretty good.
The grilled vegetables were not good. They were both under and overcooked, and the boiled potatoes were sufficient with salt & pepper from the table.
It was not a fun food experience but we found a giant arcade building with ping pong, life size chess, pool, bowling, darts, a climbing wall and mini golf. I know, after a long day of skiing we must be crazy right?
It was a fun experience though. A few games of ping pong and then my husband wiped the floor with me at pool and we made our way back to the hotel.
The next morning it was very foggy and rainy and my anxiety would not let me venture up on a mountain with skis on my unsure feet.
The trip was fun and I conquered (mostly) my fear of slamming into a tree on skis. I came home relaxed, refreshed and ready to dig back in for a bit. Plus…my book is LIVE!!!
So last week the Hubs and I decided to do another “thing”. A few weeks ago we had a soup themed week where we each cooked a variety of soups throughout the week. Another time it was sandwiches. This past week it was beans.
I know what you’re probably thinking. “Beans, gross.” If that’s what you’re thinking then you are wrong. It was a magical week of delicious food, including the Cajun beans & rice from earlier in the week.
But I will admit that maybe this is a way to cheat the bean thing, but since the English have no qualms about having beans for breakfast it worked in my favor. Cos had been asking for a few weeks now for me to make a vegan breakfast fry up so I set out to exploring different ways to get the sausage component done without wasting an obscene amount of time. I watched a few dozen videos on making vegan sausage when I came up on the Vegan But Lazy channel on YouTube. It was fast and easy, and I am happy to report created a very good sausage-like texture without the gross greasy taste.
The first thing you’ll notice is that this plate looks a little underwhelming compared to most English breakfast plates making the rounds on the internet, and that’s on purpose. I wanted the fry up without the eleven hundred calories that typically come along with it. So I kept it simple with:
Tofu & turmeric scramble
Roasted herbed tomatoes
Toast & butter
We’ll start with the sausage since it does require the most prep time. Get the original recipe here. You’ll need some vital wheat gluten (seitan), chickpea flour or nutritional yeast, herbs & seasoning, olive oil. That’s it. Mix up the ingredients and form sausage shapes and roll into aluminum foil. Simmer for 45 minutes. I followed the Cajun & Italian recipes to the letter, cut them in half and we each had half of one. They were mad delicious!
They aren’t the prettiest, but neither are the ones made with animal flesh, right? But this was what they looked like fresh from nearly an hour of steaming. I brushed them with oil and put them on a sheet pan with the tomatoes so they could crisp up in the oven.
The rest of the meal is easy peasy. Crush a brick of firm tofu and season as you wish. Get my smoky tofu crumble recipe here or check out his recipe here.
The sausages and the tomatoes will cook at the same time and you can toss the buttered bread into the oven during the last 3 to 5 minutes of cooking, or use a toaster if you have one.
You can’t really have a proper English breakfast–vegan or otherwise–without a proper beer, can you?
I can’t but as you can see, I completely forgot to get a good photo of them, so enjoy what you can see. We shared an oat stout and a Scottish stout, maybe not very English but very delicious.
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