So recently we were feeling a hint of cabin fever and decided to get out, only all the fun places in the mountains and the countryside were packed with others who had the same idea, so we ventured into the city.
Which city, you ask?
Bucharest. It’s only about 75 kilometers from Ploiesti so within an hour–give or take for traffic–we can be there with the frustration of city driving behind us. The day was nice and sunny, we got there just late enough to bypass rush hour traffic and parked quickly, so it was mostly an easy journey.
I’ll tell you later all about my new tattoo, complete with vegan, cruelty-free vegan ink. For now, let’s talk food.
Funkink Burgers, formerly known as Sarah’s Burgers, is a fully vegan establishment. The cool thing about this place besides their artisan burgers? It’s a collaborative effort with an NGO, Romanian Vegan Association, to “promote a vegan lifestyle and reduce the consumption of animal products for ethical, economic reasons, to protect health and the environment.”
Pretty cool mission statement, if I do say so myself.
After sitting on a stool for hours until my butt was numb, all I could think about was burgers. Vegan burgers and fries, and homemade vegan dipping sauces. Sign me up. Now.
The walking path to get to Funkink was a lot like wandering the side streets of Paris, basically a labyrinth of cobblestone streets that feature bars and eateries from around the world. I spotted an American style sports bar, an English pub, several German pubs because Germany is a HUGE influence in this country, and even a Scottish pub that promised “authentic Scottish fare”.
As much as I try to eat healthy, enjoying big colorful Buddha Bowls, salads and other healthy vegan options, some days you just want something greasy and good. At least I do.
After a week of nonstop marketing and promotions across all time zones for my latest romance novel, Bared., I was in desperate need of some vegan comfort food. Other than a million different types of ramen, nothing says comfort to me like potatoes.
And what is greasier and more comforting than cheese fries? Vegan cheese fries with sausage, of course!
With a few fun vegan hacks, you can enjoy this (mostly) guilt-free version of cheese fries, or you can make a few small adjustments and make comfort food light.
I don’t know about you, my fellow vegans, but when I first went vegan I found it easier to just stick to a whole food, plant based diet. I was worried that eating too many vegan alternatives would make it harder to stick to this new way of life. It helped that 4 years ago there were not as many options as there are in 2021. Back then, there was tofu, vegan sausages and various breaded vegan chicken options and if we’re being honest, they were nothing to write home about.
Okay well, there are much better options. Beyond Burger, I’m talking to you! But, as a lover of food, I knew that I would have to venture outside of my comfort zone to test out all the vegan food options for loyal readers and foodies like you.
So when I happened upon this vegan salmon by Lord of Tofu, I knew I had to try it. Well, the truth is that I knew my husband would want to try it because he loved the vegan lox we got from the same maker.
Anyhoo…here we are.
Since we’ve been going pretty steadily on our Midnight Tokyo Diner thing, the hubs requested this meal. Lemon broccoli pasta with vegan salmon and that’s what I gave him.
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.
I’ll tell you up front that I was so excited about how well, and by well I mean cheesy this dish came out, that I dug right in and finished it all before I remembered the small matter of taking photos. Oops.
Since the Hubs and I still do the Midnight Tokyo Diner dinner choices, our meal choices are at the mercy of that on any given night, which means some nights we have more not-so-healthy meals than others.
This is one of those nights.
He requested cheesy mac & cheese and I may have gone a little overboard, but here we are.
The truth is that I like to experiment with different vegan foods when they hit the market and well, my most recent haul included several different types of vegan cheese and since my husband LOVES mac & cheese, I knew this request would come, sooner or later.
So when he made his request, I had my marching orders.
I’ve made no secret over the years that one of the things from my old, pre-vegan life that I do not miss is cheese. I mean, cheese is good. It’s fine. It’s just no longer my jam since I’m not addicted to it. I’ve experimented with all types of vegan cheese brands and until the past few months, I’ve been underwhelmed. I’ve even done the alt-cheese thing myself, using white beans, a turmeric & nooch béchamel for pizza, a milk-based cheese-ish sauce, and even a carrot cheese. I have tried it all and made an informed decision that I can take or leave cheese.
And then, I did my semi-regular online order of vegan food from a source in Germany and…wow. This super cheesy vegan gnocchi bake was incredible. Ooey and gooey cheesy deliciousness, minus the need to keep eating and eating.
If you know how to make mac & cheese then you know how to make this dish, but there are a few caveats since I got a little fancy with it.
Do you guys watch a lot of YouTube or is it just me? I use it for many of my workout videos, my crime documentaries and most of all, recipes. I subscribe to vegan and non-vegan channels alike because sometimes non-vegan cooks have some really good ideas too.
One of my favorites is Chef John from Food Wishes. I love his corny dad jokes and even though there is always meat or dairy in his recipes, I love to veganize so many of them that it’s worth it. During one of my recent YouTube sessions, which its pretty difficult to call it a single session since it pretty much goes on and on for most of the day, especially since I pay for premium which means…no ads!
Sorry, Chef John and the Pancake Lasagna (recipe here and video here). So my partner and I watched this video together and we both pretty much had the same reaction. “Let’s make this. ASAP.”
So, that’s what we did.
The idea behind this vegan lasagna is pretty simple. Make the lasagna you love, only replace the pasta with thin, homemade pancakes. This idea appealed to me immediately because ever since moving to Europe, I have had a difficult time finding the long lasagna noodles that you boil so they’re nice and malleable no matter what size/shape baking dish you use.
When you think of pesto, you probably imagine the light green sauce we know as pesto alla Genovese, made with basil and pine nuts and usually some type of hard cheese. This is my go-to pesto recipe because the flavor of fresh basil is pretty incredible. When I talk vaguely about pesto, this is what I am referring to.
But, that isn’t the only way to make pesto. In fact, all you really need is the right leafy green and you can make pesto out of almost anything. I’ve used carrot greens, spinach, a mix of herbs, sundried tomatoes and now…ramsons!
Making pesto is pretty easy if you have a food processor but if you prefer the old school method that requires a mortar & pestle you’ll need a bit more muscle to get the job done. Either way will work, so pick your method and grab your ingredients.
Let’s start with basic ingredients for vegan pesto!
Ingredients Basil Scallions (optional) Lemon (juiced) Garlic Pine nuts (I like to lightly toast them) Nutritional yeast (or vegan parmesan) Water (if needed and added gradually)
That’s a super basic ingredient list, right? Pesto, for all its delicious flavors, isn’t a sauce that’s over-complicated and that’s certainly part of it’s charm. It’s so flavorful that a little bit goes a long way.
Tip: If you use more than a bunch or 2 of basil, give it a pulse or two on its own before adding the rest of the pesto ingredients. This is especially important if you choose to go oil-free because you won’t get that smooth chop that comes with adding 1/4 cup or more of olive oil to the pesto.
Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl of the food processor and start with a gentle pulse until the ingredients start to blend. If you’re having trouble, add a tablespoon of water and crank up the speed of the food processor until you get the desired consistency.
Tip: Add half the lemon juice up front and the rest as you need more liquid to break up those leafy greens, and then switch to water or you’ll end up with a SUPER lemony pesto.
Tip: Add nutritional yeast a little at a time, tasting as you go. If you use vegan parmesan, please let me know your tips because I have some Violife Parmesan arriving in the mail…any day now today!
If you make a big batch of pesto, I recommend adding a teaspoon of oil after two days to make the batch last longer. If you make enough for one or two days, feel free to keep the pesto oil-free.
My mother-in-law recently returned from the local Farmer’s Market with a huge bag of ramsons, also known as wild garlic or ramps (pictured below) and once I got a whiff of that yummy garlicky scent, I knew this would be perfect for pesto. The first batch, which I didn’t photograph, was super garlicky because I added about 20 grams of roasted garlic to the pesto. It was delicious but very, very garlicky.
For the second batch, I decided to go with a vegan Ramson Pesto alla Trapanese style vegan pesto which means leafy greens, nuts and fresh tomatoes. I had some heirloom kumatoes that I hoped would work.
My Ingredients: Ramsons Lemon (juiced & zested) Walnuts Kumato Mustard Nutritional yeast or Vegan Parm Tabasco sauce (just a few drops) Water
Break up the ramsons with a few pulses in the food processor and then add the remaining ingredients, starting with a slow pulse and then giving them a good go ’round until you have a nice pesto consistency.
If the leaves aren’t broken up enough, add water or lemon juice to keep it an oil-free pesto, but if you don’t mind some extra fat, add oil one teaspoon at a time.
Refrigerate and add to your favorite pasta dishes, sandwiches or whatever else you fancy. In fact, tell me in the comments section how you like to enjoy your pesto. My favorite thing to do besides enjoy it on a toasted baguette or crackers, is to add some veggiegurt to it for a creamy, flavorful salad dressing.
Next time you make pesto of any kind, I’d love to see it so hit me up on Facebook or Instagram with photos!
To me, salad are magic. How else can you eat as much food as your belly can hold, pack your body with nutrients and do it all with very few calories? If there’s another way, I don’t know it and I’m not sure that I want to. But, seriously, if you know another way, I’m all ears because I’m in love with food and I need to know.
Anyway, I was waxing poetic about salad. Going vegan really opened my eyes to what a salad could be and I am happy to report that I never frown at a big bowl of colorful veggies anymore. Well, unless someone else made it and they consider salad best when drenched in oil.
One of my favorite salads had always been Caesar salad. It’s creamy and tangy and really, quite simple. But until recently, I haven’t been bold enough or brave enough to veganize it.
Welcome to today, folks and the chickpea Caesar salad.
This is a simple vegan salad but it will definitely satisfy your appetite and impress your palette.
Let’s start with the list of ingredients. It seems daunting, but I promise it’s not. The dressing requires a few ingredients but that’s mostly measuring and mixing.
Many of my friends think that eating a vegan diet means always eating healthy, and it doesn’t. Sure, most days I try to eat a whole food, plant based diet with plenty of fresh & colorful vegetables, grains, beans and legumes.
That doesn’t always happen.
As a professional writer and self-published author, there is a lot on my plate and sometimes I just want something hot and yummy and not necessarily totally healthy, and that’s all right because I work out regularly and I am as active as possible when I’m not parked in front of a computer screen.
So when I want to eat a greasy vegan schnitzel with creamy cheesy pasta and broccoli, I do.
This post doesn’t require a full on recipe because you can find your favorite brand of vegan chicken, or make your own vegan fried chicken, and cook in the air fryer or the oven with your desired seasonings. I used garlic, black pepper and smoky paprika and popped it in the oven on 200C so it would be crispy enough not to get soggy on top of the pasta.