Couscous & Vegan Mince Stuffed Mushrooms

I love mushrooms. They are just…delicious.

You can use them as the ‘meat’ replacement if you’re just starting to transition to a vegan diet or lifestyle because they are sturdy and heavy and did I mention, delicious? You can grill them, fry’em, roast them in the oven or pop them in the air fryer. These suckers are very versatile, use them in your favorite mushroom vegan Buddha bowl.

I will put mushrooms in any vegan recipe I can from vegan risotto, to shredded barbecue oyster mushrooms on a bun and even vegan burgers.

I recently came across some of those giant mushrooms that are just perfect for a night of stuffed mushrooms, and then I found out that the new Romanian vegan food brand, Verdino, made a mince and I knew I had to try it out!

The hard part of any stuffed mushroom recipe is figuring out what to stuff it with. Do you load it up with veggies or look for a protein source? Since I already knew the Verdino mince was on the menu, it was time to fill up the giant brown and white mushroom caps.

I decided to keep this vegan dinner recipe simple with easy ingredients for both components of this dish. Inside the mushrooms are: couscous, shallots, sundried tomatoes, garlic, green bell pepper and vegan mince not meat.

Just saute the shallots, bell pepper and garlic, add in the mince last unless it’s really greasy, then add it first so you won’t need to add any additional oil, a perfect option if you want an oil-free diet option. Season and cook until brown and warmed through, set aside.

I recommend that you give it some time to cool down before you handle the mixture because you will end up using your hands.

Now, while this is all going on, you’ll have to make the couscous. Bring salted/seasoned water to a boil and add the couscous. Stir and remove from heat and, voila, couscous.

Annnnd, while you’re doing all that, you should get the mushrooms going in the oven unless you want them to get super water logged while stuffed. Bake them for about 15 to 20 minutes until they are still firm but starting to crisp around the edges.

Stuff the mushrooms with your vegan mince mixture and bake for another 10 to 15 minutes. Oh and as my Hubs suggested, add cheese on top if you want, but you don’t need them.

If you mis-measured the way I did, put the rest of the mix on the plate to make a ‘bed’ of stuffed mushroom goodness.

Since we know this isn’t a proper vegan dinner for any grownup vegan, what will you add with these stuffed mushrooms? You can go with fries because they DO go with just about everything. But I opted for carrot, garlic & ginger soup instead. Please be kind because the photo, well, it isn’t pretty.

It was a very satisfying vegan dinner recipe and it was pretty quick to put together. It was the perfect bistro night dinner, at least in my opinion.

As for the Verdino mince, it was delicious and not too oily. I added a few basic seasoning like salt, black pepper, garlic granules and smoky paprika and that was all it needed. If you find it, give it a shot, and tell me in the comments what’s your favorite brand of vegan mince not-meat?

Vegan Shrimp Linguine Scampi

So I know that I’ve said on previous occasions that I’m not a fan of vegan foods that look like animal products and that rings true, but I am an adventurous person and on my latest online vegan food shopping spree I decided to do something bold.

Something crazy.

Something out of the realm of possibility.

I bought vegan prawns. And they look like they are meant to be prawns, which is kind of creepy but hey, it’s 2020 and the world is full of crazy things. This is mine.

The package came in yesterday and I had finally found a package of egg-free linguine that I hadn’t figured out what I wanted for my Midnight Tokyo Diner meal, so I asked for scampi.

Scampi, y’all!

The Hubs kept the recipe pretty simple because to get a good vegan scampi going all you really need is: garlic, capers and onions. But if you want to add a little pizazz to the mix, which he did but there was no white wine to be found in our liquor cabinet, you can also add mirin, soy sauce and vegan Worcestershire if you can find it.

You’ll also need; linguine, corn starch, peanut oil, panko and nutritional yeast.

Cook the pasta according to box instructions.

Sautee onions and add garlic later, then capers. If you have white wine, add it here, otherwise this is where you want to start layering the flavors of the sauce. And, of course, thickening the sauce.

Cook the vegan prawns according to the package instructions or until warmed through and toss together.

That’s it, just as easy as any other scampi recipe you’ll come across, minus the cruelty.

Now, my impression of the vegan shrimp? Meh. It wasn’t bad but it was bland, though I was very happy that it wasn’t at all fishy like some other vegan seafood products, which I appreciate. The texture left much to be desired but this little experiment has cured me of my desire to taste vegan seafood.

The panko-nutritional yeast blend is a step I recommend you do not skip. Sure, you can add vegan parmesan if that’s your thing, but with a little dried parsley and garlic granules, you’ve got a great vegan bread topping!

Overall this dish was delicious with a nice spice level and it was a quick and easy vegan dinner.

Have you tried any vegan seafood that you would try again?

Vegan Risotto alla Bolognese

Is there anything better on a cold November day than some thick and hearty carbs smothered in a creamy sauce that just makes you feel better about being stuck in the house and cold as hell?

Not on this particular November day, anyway.

This vegan dinner was a request from my husband a la Midnight Tokyo Diner and I decided to go fairly authentic with the vegan bolognese sauce, so let’s jump right in to this vegan risotto alla bolognese recipe!

To make things easy for me, I made the risotto and the bolognese separately and tossed them together over low heat at the end, but here is the full ingredient list:

I will tell you up front that this wasn’t the most calorie friendly vegan recipe, coming in at just over 600 calories per servings, but holy moly was it worth every minute of working out the day of and the next day!

If you know how to cook risotto or if you have a preferred method, warm up your vegan broth and get it going. If you’re not sure the best way to cook risotto, check out this long ago recipe of mine!

Now…onto the vegan bolognese!

I used a mixture of onions and shallots to cook the risotto and for the sauce, so to get the vegan bolognese started, add a splash of oil to the pot along with the chopped onions, shallot, bell pepper, carrot and celery. Cook until it starts to soften and add the vegan burger meat. This was another new vegan product find for me from a company I was unfamiliar with, Naturli, but the burgers weren’t too greasy and it was very tasty, blended in perfectly with this vegan dinner recipe.

Next add the garlic for 2 minutes, then the fresh tomatoes. Cook until tomatoes start to break down, it should take a few minutes while you stir regularly.

Add tomato paste and some broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to thicken.

When everything is ready, toss together over low heat. Normally I would add some nutritional yeast to the vegan red sauce but it was perfectly seasoned and didn’t need it. See how I patted myself on the back right there? Don’t be afraid to do that once in a while…it feels good.

Now comes the tough question: to add or not to add vegan cheese?

The choice is yours! I didn’t think it was necessary but if you have a vegan cheese you love, feel free to add it and PLEASE drop a link below with your vegan cheese recommendation.

Be sure to season the sauce every step of the way or you’ll end up with bland red sauce. And if you don’t have any fresh tomatoes, canned/jarred crushed tomatoes work well but they are a little sweeter so you’ll have to be more diligent about seasoning.

And there you have it, a delicious vegan risotto alla bolognese. If you try it out, feel free to leave photos in the comments section or share with me on Instagram or Facebook.

Vegan Comfort Food ~ Mac & White Bean Cheese

Hello. My name is Natasha and I have a serious carb problem. Specifically a pasta/noodle problem.

The problem is, I can’t get enough of it. And the bigger problem is that he can’t get enough of it either.

So we’ve been eating a lot of pasta. Maybe for comfort or familiarity or maybe because is just so damn good that why wouldn’t you find reason after reason to eat it?

Let’s stop with the ridiculous questions and just talk about this incredible vegan mac & cheese that’s made with no cheese.

At tall.

Vegan white bean cheese & shells

There’s only thing that’s truly different about this vegan mac & cheese recipe and that’s the white bean cheese so I’ll keep this short and sweet.

Ingredients:
Short pasta (elbow mac, shells, whatever you like)
Garlic
Tofu/soy
Onion
Green bell pepper
Nutritional yeast
Tomato paste
Mustard
Navy beans
Lemon juice
Turmeric powder
Almond milk

Cook your pasta according to the instructions. I like to time it so that the pasta is ready just about the time to toss it with the sauce, but it’s an experience thing so…do your best.

As for the vegan cheese, rinse and drain the beans before you pop them into the food processor and give them a quick pulse, 2 or 3 times. Then add the rest of the ingredients: milk, nutritional yeast, turmeric, mustard, tomato paste and garlic, and run until smooth. Set side until you’re ready.

If you’re looking for a quick and easy vegan meal, you can skip the part where you saute the onions, garlic and bell pepper but it’s what makes it full meal with a depth of flavor that’s guaranteed to satisfy. When the veggies have been sauteed until golden, add the vegan bean cheese to warm through.

Note: If you want a gooey cheese, I recommend adding some tapioca starch.

Toss with cooked pasta and cooked tofu/soy and place into a casserole dish, cooking 15-30 minutes or until the vegan cheese sauce is thick and creamy and gooey.

And there you have it, folk, another easy delicious and totally vegan pasta recipe! Experiment with different types of beans and different flavor profiles to see just how many days man/woman can live on pasta alone!

What’s your favorite way to do vegan mac and cheese?

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.

Easy Cheesy Mushroom & Lentil Bolognese

Happy Monday and a happier November to you all!

Today we’re talking pasta and I mean, really, how many good things can you say about pasta? It’s delicious and comes in all kinds of shapes and sizes. Oh, and carbs are an important energy source for any diet. Did that cover it all?

Hardly.

But one of the best things about pasta is that it’s a pretty forgiving dish so even if you’re not ready to test your vegan cooking skills, this vegan pasta dish will make you believe.

This is a totally plant based vegan dish, using lentils instead of tofu or seitan or tempeh or whatever your favorite meat substitute is. If you want a really thick and creamy vegan Bolognese sauce, cook the lentils in the sauce, but if you’re pressed for time cook it while you sauté the crimini mushrooms, onion and bell pepper.

That pretty much cover the ingredients but, here’s the formal list:

Crimini mushrooms
Onion
Garlic
Red bell pepper
Green lentils
Nutritional yeast
Tomato Paste
Pasta
Olive oil
Vegan parmesan (optional)

Heat the oil to saute the veggies for 5 to 7 minutes, or until slightly brown and crisp on the edges.

Cook the lentils at the same time and if you’re really good at multi-tasking, the pasta too.

Add the tomato paste and water/broth to the sauce and let it simmer with or without the lentils.

When the sauce is thick and the lentils are done, toss the pasta with your vegan Bolognese sauce and enjoy your meal!

It’s just that easy, I swear and once you feel comfortable with this vegan pasta dish, you can grab a few different ingredients and try a different vegan pasta recipe.

To add vegan cheese or not to add vegan cheese, is always the question…for my partner. I can take it or leave it and with the nutritional yeast, it has a nice depth of flavor that some vegans find cheesy but I just find it…satisfying.

If you’re feeling bold, add vodka and coconut milk for a vodka sauce, or red wine for a different flavor profile. Or you can try this funky Asian pasta dish!

Good luck & happy eating!

Vegan Pub Fare: Falafel Balls & Baked Fries

One of the things I’m always trying to do is find ways to take the greasy foods I love and make them a little bit healthier and more calorie friendly. Thanks to my trusty air fryer, that’s now a possibility. But there are some days when you want to just pop some stuff into the oven and call it a day.

Right?

When it comes to falafel, you usually end up with a lot of oil for frying so this was a challenge. Let’s see if you like what I’ve come up with!

This is a relatively easy dish to make and even more so if you don’t have to stand in front of the stove, turning the vegan falafel balls so each side gets nice and crispy. If you have your own vegan falafel mix recipe, feel free to use it, or just grab these ingredients from the pantry:

Garbanzo beans
Onion (grated)
Parsley (optional)
Nutritional yeast
Soy sauce
Garlic
Flour (whole wheat or chickpea)
Water (only if the mix is too thick)

I prefer to pulse the chickpeas alone in the food processor first so they break down and get crumbly but you can always do everything all at once if you’re a lazy vegan. Season with salt, pepper and smoky paprika, or whatever else you feel like using and form into balls.

You might need to let it rest in the fridge for about 10 minutes and if you have time, I suggest you do that…maybe while the oven preheats (or the oil heats up if you decide to deep fry).

Form the falafel mix into balls and lay on a lightly greased parchment paper, cook for about 20 minutes or until the vegan balls start to crisp up. If you find that it’s taking too long, turn on the top heat and crank up the heat for an extra 5 minutes.

The good thing about this recipe is that you can bake the falafel and fries at the same time!

For the potatoes, just cut into the desired shape/width/length and season. We went for a spicy cajun-masala blend because of the creamy lemon & dill veggiegurt dipping sauce (which I forgot to photograph) so they came out a little on the spicy side.

Bake for about 30 minutes or until crispy and you’ve got easy vegan pub food in 30 minutes or less!

I haven’t had falafels in a long time and this was a good, pita-free, way to enjoy them without sacrificing my love of potatoes!

If you decide to try these vegan falafel balls, please share the recipe with me!

Seitan Sausage & Vegan Carbonara

Just for the sake of clarification, I should tell you that I am not a tradititonalist when it comes to recipes. I will take something that looks interesting and try it once to decide how I like it, and then I will tweak it to fit my palate, ingredients and desires. But I will totally keep the name.

So when my partner requested “a type of carbonara” I knew exactly what he meant; give me some kind of creamy pasta dish.

And thus this vegan carbonara dish with seitan sausage was born.

If you don’t have access to any vegan sausage at your local market and you want to make it from scratch, you’ll need vital wheat gluten and nutritional yeast or chickpea flour.

You will also need the following:

It’s a pretty simple vegan pasta dish if you’re ever in need of a quick weeknight dinner, or like me, those nights when you end up writing until ten at night and forget all about dinner.

This is a pretty easy vegan recipe to execute. Cook the pasta according to the box instructions, but I recommend that you cook it 1 or 2 minutes shy of the box recommendation because you’ll add it to the hot vegan carbonara sauce and it’ll cook a little more. But if you like very soft pasta, do you.

I like my mushrooms with a bit of a bite so I cook them until the moisture is gone and they start to crisp around the edges, and then I add the onion (cook 5 to 7 minutes) and the garlic (another 2 or 3 minutes, until fragrant). Slice the seitan sausage and add it with the garlic, cooking until the edges start to crisp.

That brings us to the carbonara sauce, which I know is nothing like the authentic Italian carbonara mostly because this is a vegan carbonara which means NO ANIMALS. Instead I used unsweetened almond milk, black pepper, garlic and nutritional yeast. The yeast will help the sauce thicken and give it depth of flavor, but you might want to try your hand at a thick and creamy vegan bechamel (get my recipe here) if you don’t possess enough patience to wait for the sauce to thicken, which it will.

When the pasta is done, add it straight from the water into the pot with the mushrooms, onion, garlic & sausage and pour the vegan carbonara sauce over it, tossing over low heat until combined.

Serve and garnish with fresh ground black pepper and vegan parmesan cheese. I use ParVeggio because it is literally my only option here in Romania, but it is tasty and creamy and salty, and it smells much better than the canned crap I used to eat.

The next time you need a quick and easy vegan pasta dish, consider this creamy, plant based carbonara.

Enjoy!

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?

Easy Vegan Lunch Ideas – Spicy Buffalo Tofu Sandwich & Salad

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.

Spicy Vegan Buffalo Tofu Sandwich

This recipe is pretty easy as far as vegan lunch recipes go.

Ingredients:
2 Ciabatta Rolls
70 grams TVP ~ I use inedit but use whatever you like
1 Garlic clove (pressed/minced)
Franks Red Hot (which is accidentally vegan!)
1 tbsp. Vegan ketchup
5 grams Olive oil
5 grams Cider vinegar
Sriracha
50 grams Veggigurt
Scallion & Dill
Salad fixings

Rehydrate the TVP in water or broth and let it rest to get as much liquid out as possible. When you’re ready, toss it in a variety of seasonings & spices such as: smoky paprika, turmeric, piri piri, garlic, cumin & white pepper…don’t forget the oil.

Pop the vegan buffalo strips in the air fryer for 10 to 15 minutes. I ended p going closer to 15 minutes because I use the big chunks and cut them in half before seasoning them. When the spicy tofu is done, toss it in a mixture of hot sauce, vinegar (optional), and vegan butter (also optional).

I used: Sriracha, ketchup, pressed garlic, hot sauce & cider vinegar (just enough to think out the mixture).

For the sauce, mix veggiegurt, dill, lemon juice and thinly sliced scallions. Season with salt & pepper and add to bread.

Then whip up your salad and dress it with a quick vegan vinaigrette (mustard, vinegar, herbs & spices), and your easy vegan lunch recipe is ready to go. If you do your prep work, this is a quick and easy vegan lunch for two but if you’re cooking for more, just double the recipe as needed.

Wondering what that drink is above? Just a little bit of Jameson Caskmates Stout Edition & Bundaberg sarsaparilla, also known as a Lynchburg Beer or, since I used Jameson, Dublin Beer!

Vegan Pumpkin Spice Pumpkin Cupcakes

I know we all love to make fun of those who go a little crazy when pumpkin spice season rolls around, but the truth is these people are just taking advantage of an abundance of a spice blend that really should be available all year long. I mean, ask yourself, what is so wrong with any of these:

Cinnamon
GInger
Cloves
Allspice
Nutmeg

I can’t think of one reason to hate on these spices, especially when you have every type of squash and pumpkin at your disposal! It’s like being mad that your market has broccoli, cauliflower and romesco! Unfathomable, that’s what it is.

All I’m saying is, embrace the season and not just because we are all living in the Upside Down known as 2020, just enjoy because it’s tasty, easy to make and readily available.

All you have to do is take your favorite vegan pumpkin cupcake recipe, or a vegan cake recipe, or any other vegan autumn recipe and add the pumpkin spice blend to the dry ingredients. It really is just that simple.

And if you’re feeling really sauce, like I apparently was, add a pumpkin spice glaze by adding the same blend to powdered sugar along with almond milk, or any other nut milk, plus pinch of bourbon or brandy. For these vegan cupcakes, I used a splash of Apple Pie Moonshine because it has that extra hint of sweetness and booze that turn these vegan cupcakes into something truly amazing.

Want to make’em?

Here we go:

250g All Purpose Flour
225g Brown Sugar
1 tsp Baking Soda
1 tsp Baking Powder
1/2 tsp Salt
3 and 1/2 tsp Pumpkin Pie Spice (homemade or store bought)
335g Pumpkin Puree (not pumpkin pie filling)
1 tsp Vanilla Extract (I’m in love with this Madagascar vanilla from Dr. Oetker.
60ml Coconut Oil (or other oil, like EVOO)
1 tbsp Apple Cider Vinegar
1 Vegan Egg (I like Arche or Megga Exx, both are German brands if you’re interested)

Mix the dry ingredients together and pour the wet into the dry, stirring until bend but be careful not to overmix or you’ll end up with tough, dense vegan pastries.

Bake at 180C for 20 to 25 minutes, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean.

Now you’re done and ready to gobble up your vegan pumpkin spice cupcakes!

If you plan to add a glaze, let the cupcakes cool for 15 to 20 minutes or you’ll end up with a big, gooey mess.

What do you like drink with your vegan cupcakes…beer? Cocktails? Almond milk?

Drop your answers in the comments!

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!

African Inspired Vegan Chickpea & Peanut Butter Stew

With autumn fast upon us, I thought it was time to start bringing out the vegan soup and stew recipes. What better way to save time and stay warm than a slow cooking pot of vegetables, herbs & spices? None I can think of!

So I came across this recipe on Minimalist Baker and thought to myself, why not?

As always, feel free to make adjustments to fit your palate but unless you have some type of allergy, I really recommend you give it a solid chance first.

So what exactly makes this vegan stew, African inspired? Firstly, the peanuts or in my case, the peanut butter. And the spices. I used ras el hanout because, let’s face it, this spice blend is packed with flavor and SO delicious. Bonus tip: coat this on your potatoes before making a batch of fries in the oven or the air fryer! I also added harissa paste because I can’t get enough spice.

The ingredient list is pretty simple:

Chickpeas
Onion
Coconut milk (creamy)
Garlic
Tomato paste
Diced tomatoes (fresh or canned, its up to you)
Peanut butter
Bulgur
Coconut oil
Red bell pepper

Heat the coconut oil (or water) in a big pot or skillet and add the ras el hanout and turmeric powder, cooking until fragrant. Then add onion, garlic and bell pepper and cook 4 to 6 minutes, not too much because we’re just getting started. Add salt and pepper.

Add tomato and harissa paste, tomatoes, chickpeas, coconut milk, peanut butter and water or broth.

I only added about 1.5 tablespoons of peanut butter to the actual soup because peanut butter is crazy caloric. Instead I mixed the remaining peanut butter with hot water and drizzled it over the top for flavor and a pretty garnish.

Bring the mixture to a boil and then lower to a simmer for about 20 minutes, or until the liquid is thick and creamy.

You can add corn or tapioca start to thicken if you decide not to go crazy with coconut milk, or just enjoy it more soup-y than stew-y.

I served it on a bed of bulgur instead of rice because I love bulgur and I thought it would add a nice texture to the stew.

This meal wasn’t as calorie friendly as I prefer my vegan meals, thanks to the addition of coconut milk and peanut butter, but sometimes sacrifices have to be made if you want to try something news. Right?

My only regret was that I couldn’t find any African or specifically, West African beer to go along with this meal. Otherwise it was a great new meal to test out and enjoy.

Easy Vegan Char-fu (Vegan Char Siu)

I know, I know, you’re shocked to see yet another noodle dish from me.

Cue: your shocked face!

Seriously though, with everything going on in the world sometimes you just want a dish that brings you comfort and for me that is usually Asian noodles. They are versatile so you can get super fancy with it or do it up as simple as you like. This particular dish is a play on char siu, but obviously we’re not going to be using adorable pigs in our vegan meal, so we relied on good ol’ TVP to get the job done.

This vegan dish is all about the seasoning (and the noodles) but mostly the seasoning.

I don’t know about where you guys are–feel free to tell me where you are while reading this in the comments–but even if we were eating out these days, the suburbs of Bucharest aren’t exactly a haven for vegan cuisine, which means I can get all the Asian food I want right here in the comfort of my kitchen.

Now, you can too!

What you’ll need:

Onion
Bok Choy
Garlic
Chow Mein noodles
TVP
Peanut oil
Napa cabbage
Soy Sauce
Scallions
Hot sauce

Cook the TVP as indicated, same with the noodles.

Drain the TVP and season it, then pop it into the air fryer, oven or just fry it in a skillet, the choice is yours.

Add peanut oil to a pan or skillet and cook onion, bok choy, ginger and garlic until done, about 5 to 10 minutes, depending on how you like it. Add soy sauce and hot sauce, then toss with crispy soya.

Serve on a bed of your favorite noodles and garnish with fresh, thin sliced scallions.

This quick and easy vegan meal should take you 30 minutes or less in the kitchen, but if you’re feeling like going there, feel free to share your fancier version of vegan Char-fu!

My Attempt at Vegan Okonomiyaki

I’m ba-aack! Did you miss me?

Work had gotten a little out of control and I needed to focus so I decided to take a few days away from posting but now I’m back and ready to share with you my version of a healthy-ish vegan okonomiyaki, which is a Japanese vegetable pancake.

I will tell you right off the bat that this recipe seems a lot more daunting than it actually is. Don’t let the long, but not complicated, ingredients list scare you away. To veganize his recipe takes just as much time as the original version, which means the prep work is where most of your time will be taken up, so if you’re willing to put in the effort, let’s do this!

I’ll tell you right up front that presentation is (still) not my strong suit but this vegan pancake did come out delicious and cooked properly, even if she isn’t the prettiest girl on the dance floor.

Let’s start with the ingredients. I’m feeling a little lazy so I just copy and pasted the ingredients list I posted in Cronometer, which works out well because now you’ll have exact measurements too.

This ingredients list includes EVERYTHING you see in the first image, so it includes the Asian slaw and the Korean style tofu, because I like to mix and match my food, my clothes, my languages and my fashion. Oh, and my music!

The first step is grating potatoes, cabbage and scallions for the batter and put them in a bowl. Add flour and water, just enough water to make it smushy, which I know is super vague but I realized as I was writing this hat I didn’t include water in the ingredients. The batter is going to seem wrong, like it’s not nearly enough to produce a pancake, which was exactly what I thought. But I listened to those who know better than I do, if you don’t include all the substitutions, that is. Mix it well and refrigerate it for 10 to 30 minutes. I think this step helped everything come together, so please don’t skip it.

Oil a skillet and pour enough for one large pancake, use a wooden spoon to create a nice little pancake shape and cook 4 to 5 minutes on each side. This type of pancake should be very vegetable-y, so don’t be discouraged that this isn’t anything like your fluffy breakfast pancakes…it’s not supposed to be!

Looking at that one little vegan Japanese pancake seems sad, right? Yeah, I thought so too which is why I rounded out the meal with two little side dishes. One was a cabbage, carrot & scallion slaw mixed with veggiegurt, Sriracha and plenty of herbs & spices. The other was a small bit of TVP mixed with some Asian pastes & sauces to create a full on vegan meal…Asian style.

The sauce you see on top of the vegan okonomiyaki, is the leftover veggiegurt mixture because, who doesn’t love a little sauce with dinner?

This is a great vegan meal for when you want to impress someone, but like someone who already likes you a lot and will feel really special that you went through all this trouble for them. On top of that, it was very tasty and worth the time and effort because now I can say, “Yeah I totally know how to cook vegan okonomiyaki.”

So concludes another Midnight Tokyo Diner meal in our household. If you try this, please oh please send photos here to the blog or on Facebook or Instagram if you’re feeling frisky!

Thanks for stopping by and enjoying another vegan meal with me!

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?

Garlicky Vegan Mac & Not Cheese

I LOVE mac & cheese…at least I used to love it.

Then I went vegan and stopped eating cheese and an odd thing happened; I stopped putting cheese on EVERYTHING. And what’s crazier is that I stopped adding a sprinkle of cheese here and there because I no longer craved it. So began a year of experimenting with pizza and mac without using cheese. I tried all the #veganhacks that included using sweet potatoes, Russet potatoes, carrots, cauliflower…all of it. They were okay but none of them made mac & cheese a crave-able dish for me anymore.

Oh, the dismay.

So I did a deep dive into it and there’s a good reason I stopped needing cheese on dishes when I got off animal cheese. In a word, casomorphin. It’s what makes cheese so addictive, but don’t just take my word for it. Wikipedia explains it here.  If you want the TLDR version, here ya go:

Source, Forbes 2017

Once I had that information, I didn’t feel like a bad vegan for disliking most vegan cheese options available to me in Germany and then Romania. So I decided to get creative about it.

Rather than using vegan cheese whenever I got a craving, I would go for other things like tapenade, pesto or romesco because they are flavorful, vegan and way more calorie friendly than any type of cheese, and my primary focus initially was weight loss, so calories mattered too.

Then I discovered a way to make a cheese-like sauce that was still vegan and calorie friendly, and it satisfied my need for mac & cheese, which let’s be honest was really a craving for carbs drenched in sauce…right?

All you need is: plant milk, turmeric (if you find it raw, grate it straight into the sauce), nutritional yeast, garlic granules, smoky paprika, mustard (optional), salt & pepper.

I employ the ‘low & slow’ method, which means it takes about 10 minutes (maybe longer if you’re using a lot of milk) to get the not cheese sauce nice and thick so it’ll stick to your pasta of choice.

Add the nutritional yeast one tablespoon at a time, letting it simmer and dissolve before adding more, and be sure to taste it in between just to make sure it doesn’t get too salty. Set a timer for 10 minutes and keep going until you get the thickness you prefer.

For this particular dish, I kept it pretty simple with pasta, 30 grams of sauteed garlic, and soy pieces. Add not-cheese and stir. If you’re feeling extra, pop it in the oven for 10 minutes to get a little bit of crust on top but it’s totally not necessary because this vegan mac stands on its own.

vegan alternative to mac & cheese

Just a quick note here: turmeric doesn’t just add the color of American cheese to this dish, it also comes with plenty of health benefits that include anti-oxidant as well as anti-inflammatory properties, which is a nice change for cheese, don’tcha think?

Let me know if you decide to make your own version…what do you put in it?