With each passing year there are more and more vegan meat alternatives. Whether it’s Beyond Burgers, vegan meatballs, sausages or the all-purpose TVP, there are many ways you can take your vegan diet and lifestyle to the next level. You can enjoy childhood favorites without the cruelty. You can still enjoy your favorite comfort foods, like Vegan Salisbury Steak, without using animals to satisfy your hunger.
Great, right? It’s the goal of every vegan I’ve met since becoming vegan in 2017.
But sometimes you just want to get back to your plant-based vegan roots. Or sometimes I do, anyway. There’s no particular reason for this. I eat plenty of fresh vegetables. Fruits? Not so much, but it’s something I’m working on becoming better at as much as I can. But between vegetables (raw and cooked), whole grains and beans, I do try to get a good dose of them to my diet each week.
But on this day, I was visiting a new Lidl here in Ploiesti and they had, guess what? Fresh artichokes, already trimmed!!! I was totally stoked and knew that it was time to use them or lose them.
So, I used them.
This is a simple totally plant based vegan recipe that is easy to make and super delicious.
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.
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”.
What do these yummy dishes all have in common? They are delicious vegan dips!
I don’t know about you guys, but I am always looking for different things to dip-ify. My favorite is salsa, followed up with hummus but I can totally get down with a nice tapenade if the olive selection is appealing enough. But any one of these vegan dips can get boring after a while and I find it’s nice to switch things up once in a while, so when my father-in-law brought A LOT of white plums back from a trip to the Romanian countryside, it was the perfect time to improvise.
To be fair, white plums are not all that delicious on their own. The texture is very similar to the plums you can find in most supermarkets around the world, but the taste is so mild that it’s almost nonexistent. If you give them a day or two after they’re perfectly ripe, they are much sweeter and perfect for this vegan relish I created. Well…maybe someone else created and I just made it up in my head. Either way, this one is mine and I’m claiming it.
The ingredient list on this vegan dip is super simple. All you need is: banana pepper, shallot, white plums, fresh lemon juice and rice vinegar. The only seasoning I added was salt, black pepper & garlic granules.
Start with the shallots, because you want to give him a little bit of pickling so they don’t overpower the other ingredients. Dice the shallots and add them straight to a bowl, along with salt, pepper, lemon juice and vinegar. Give it a little stir and let it sit while you chop the banana peppers and plums.
I used jarred banana peppers because that’s what I had on hand, and truthfully I don’t think I’ve seen any fresh banana peppers since moving to Romania. Add the banana peppers to the bowl and give a good stir before moving on to the plums.
For the white plums, you can peel the skin off but I kept them on because, you know, fiber. Give them an even dice and add to the bowl. Give everything a quick stir and refrigerate. I let them sit in the fridge for a few days so the flavors could get together and have a little party, but you can dig right in if you want.
And now you have another easy vegan dip added to your repertoire.
And what’s even better? It is SUPER calorie/figure friendly!
As I’ve mentioned before, I have been working on upping my salad game and so, the trend continues into a new week. I had a dental appointment today which was, let’s just say, less than quick & easy. We went grocery shopping today because tomorrow is my release day for my newest novel, and it was 32 degrees Celsius all day.
So what else is an exhausted, overheated vegan, author and wife to do? Salad.
But I wanted to do something a little bit different from what I usually do, while also making a salad that was substantial enough to satisfy.
Enter, vegan sushi salad bowl. We probably need a better name, don’t we?
Yeah, but this is the name we got and I promise, the dish tastes much better than the title.
There are quite a few components to this vegan salad recipe, but it’s not difficult at all. Honestly, this recipe is all about the prep work. If you’re willing to prep, this is another easy vegan recipe you can add to your repertoire.
Me. I love potatoes and I could eat them every single day and not having them the same way. Whether its sweet potatoes or mashed potatoes, fries or home fries, I am here for POTATOES. So when I found these vegan mici (Romanian word for “little ones” or “small ones”) I knew it was the perfect way to over-indulge in potatoes.
Just a little, anyway.
And since I’m (still) editing like my life depends on it, I’m going to make this a quick-ish post.
This was kind of a hodge-podge meal, as you can see with just a few mushrooms because there were only a few leftover as it was almost grocery day. Again.
The first time I ate Indian food, I was at a restaurant in Washington, D.C. and I hated it. The food was bland and boring and left such a bad taste in my mouth that it took me about three years before I tried it again. That time, well let’s just say that in our house, Indian food is on the menu at least once a week.
The dish was lamb vindaloo (sorry lamb!) and it was everything I had been promised Indian food would be. Well-seasoned, flavorful as hell, and spicy. It blew me away and from that moment on, I was hooked. The addiction was formed.
And it was that memory that inspired me to re-create the Kartoffel Vindaloo in all it’s spicy glory.
You’re probably wondering why I named this recipe Kartoffel Vindaloo intsead of regular ol’ potato vindaloo? The simple answer is that after spending almost a decade living in Germany, I’ve decided that I prefer the word kartoffel to the word potato, that’s all. 🙂
I love a good dip. Maybe it’s because I love chips and vegan dips are the perfect way to enjoy them, or maybe it’s just because I love the act of dipping things into vats of creamy goodness.
Well I was really in the mood for a vegan spinach & artichoke dip but thanks to ‘world events’ a few weeks had gone by without any artichokes–fresh or jarred–so I was forced to improvise. And since I’ve been on a kick making vegan squash and vegan pumpkin recipes, you can imagine that I had quite a bit to use time and time again and I was like, “Well, squash can be made cheesy, right?”
The answer, folks, is yeah. It can.
As you can probably tell by the photo there is a lot of squash in this recipe, because it’s part of the dip as well as the queso, if that makes sense?
Ingredients: Butternut Squash Garlic Spinach (frozen works well here) Red bell pepper Shallot Nutritional yeast Vegan cheese (for topping) Tapioca starch Olive oil Almond milk (I used Alpro Almond, No Sugars)
Start with the shallots & bell peppers, giving them a quick saute, but do it in a pan big enough to hold the squash because this is a one pot vegan dip! When shallots & peppers are close to done, add the garlic and cook for a minute or two.
Then add the frozen spinach and break it up if you didn’t thaw it in cold water first. Now it’s time to add the…butternut squash! Use a wooden spoon to stir and make sure it’s all broken up, or pop it in the food processor or blender until smooth.
Season with desired herbs & spices and this is where you should also add the nutritional yeast for that pop of flavor.
Slowly add the milk until it’s a little loose and then add the tapioca starch, one teaspoon at a time until you notice that thick cheesy consistency start to form.
Garnish with your favorite vegan cheese and bake for 20 minutes on 180 Celsius. Eat with your favorite vegan dipper!
When this vegan queso dip comes out of the oven it’ll be golden brown and bubbly and HOT. Proceed with caution!
And if you’re like me and can’t get enough spice, add a few drops of Sriracha or your favorite hot sauce on top and dig right in!
Let’s keep it real, when it comes to cooking not every meal can be a gourmet masterpiece or the very definition of healthy and nutritious. We hope for one of those of two, but sometimes you just want what you want. Right?
That’s pretty much how this easy vegan meal came about. I felt like having something spicy but I didn’t want to go crazy with calories and I didn’t want to make something that would cost too much time in the kitchen because I was furiously trying to get my book properly formatted so the paperback could be completed.
Luckily for me, I found some leftover sauerkraut and decided…why the heck not? I love sauerkraut actually. I spent a part of my childhood in Wisconsin where I experienced many Oktoberfest celebrations and learned a lot about German and Polish culture. Then, I went on to spend about 8 years living in Germany, so yeah, sauerkraut is my jam! But, I’ve never used it out side of my seitan & kraut style recipes. So I did what any internet savvy home cook does, I consulted Google to find out other ways to use sauerkraut and what to pair it with.
Turns out, it makes an excellent side dish, with only a little prep time.
Since we’ve talked so much about the kraut, let’s start with that. I like to rinse it a little just so the taste isn’t quite so vinegar-y, then drain and set aside. Chop up one onion and a few cloves of garlic to saute (in oil or water) and when they start to crisp and turn brown, add the kraut. Cook until warm OR you can just turn off the stove and stir together if you want the full health benefits of fermented foods.
While the onions & garlic are cooking, you should re-hydrate your soya (TVP) if that’s what you’re using because that’s why I used in this easy vegan recipe, but you can always use whatever vegan protein floats your boat. I used the big pieces because there’s a lot of surface to cover in yummy spicy sauce and because I wanted a reason to break out my new air fryer!
While the soy chunks are in the air fryer, I added a bunch of spices to a bowl along with soy sauce and just enough olive oil to turn it into a paste/sauce that would work for a tossed coating. My spices: smoky & spicy paprika, garlic granules, ground ginger, harissa powder, piri piri, turmeric and cumin. When the timer beeps, remove the crispy vegan tofu wings and toss in the spice mixture.
If you’re my kind of vegan home cook and you tend to make foods a little on the spicier side, consider adding a cooling sauce for those in your home who don’t love spicy vegan foods the way you do.
I opted for a veggiegurt sauce with lemon juice, cumin, parsley and oregano. The hubs said it helped with the heat…a lot.
If you’re in the market for quick and easy vegan recipes, you will be happy to know that this recipe took about 30 minutes and that includes entering the ingredients into Cronometer.
What do you like to pair with your vegan hot wings?
People always ask me if I feel like I’m missing on out something because I don’t eat or use any products derived from animals. It’s as if they think Beyond Burger doesn’t exist, or tofu or seitan or tempeh. Or vegetables and grains, beans…legumes.
I think I’ve made my point here, right?
The truth is that trying to lose weight can often be super restrictive, but not on a #vegan diet. You see, I can request that the Hubs whip up twice baked potatoes and feel confident that he can bring the meal in under 600 calories because there is no animal cheese, no bacon, no butter…no dairy to increase my inflammation and my butt size.
Now if you’re a particularly determined vegan, then yeah, you can make this as calorie crazy as the animal eaters. But why would you want to?
The best thing about a recipe like this is that it is incredibly easy to customize. Rather than going for vegan bacon, we opted for sauteed onions de-glazed with balsamic vinegar. Add a pinch of smoky paprika and you’ll get that smoky flavor you think you need with bacon, vegan or otherwise.
For the broccoli, just steam or boil for 3 to 5 minutes and then give an ice bath to keep it bright green and beautiful. The cheese is a simple almond milk, corn starch, mustard, nutritional yeast and vegan cheese sauce. It’s quick thanks to the cornstarch, which is also why you don’t need to had several fist fulls of cheese. I learned my lesson from this calorie bomb masquerading as #vegan mac & cheese.
As you can see, the plate was a lot lighter than it usually is which is how he managed to make it tasty and calorie friendly.
This is one of the key points we all need to remember when we enjoy indulgent meals like this, the best way to not go overboard is to make sure you adhere to serving sizes. I would have loved a bigger portion of this, but the medium dress I just bought reminds me why I skip it!
Here’s my tip for enjoying this cheesy vegan dish: eat it on your workout day!
Any vegan cheese recommendations? I’m always in search of something new so tell me, what’s new in your part of the vegan world?