With this unbelievable and sometimes, unbearable, heat, I have been working to up my salad game.
We’ve all heard the vegan jokes about munching on lettuce nonstop to fuel our malnourished bodies, but the truth is that if I’d known how amazing I could make salads in my pre-vegan days, my life might be very different today. Thank goodness, I didn’t figure it out until now.
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 know about where you live, but here in Romania the weather has been a bit…let’s say temperamental. It’s been incredibly hot and humid one day, chilly and rainy the next, and them my personal favorite, the unbearable mix of super hot and incredibly humid.
Yeah, I’ve been finding ways to not let the weather get to me, mostly by ignoring the heat, but also making use of the little desktop fan that I have all to myself. When the weather is really ridiculous, I just switch it up and wait until close to sundown to start working & writing, because I have that luxury.
But what about those days when the weather dips just a little? Well, on those days I take advantage and have something unexpected in this stupidly hot summer. Enter, Cajun vegan sausage casserole.
We can all agree that July is just too damn hot for any type of casserole, except when it isn’t. When that day rolls around, I’m taking full advantage. So…here we go!
When you’re in search of an easy vegan casserole recipe, I find the Cajun or Creole style options are wonderful. And very forgiving. These types of vegan recipes work really well if you want a spicy dish or a milder one, and you can experiment with grains to change it up and prevent mealtime boredom.
Depending on where you live, it might be hard to come by gnocchi. It took us forever to find an egg-free vegan option and whenever they’re in stock, I make sure to add a package to the shopping cart. I mean, what could possibly be better than potatoes masquerading as some kind of pasta?
For the past few days the weather outside has left much to be desired. It’s been gray and rainy, which means the hard work of editing takes even longer. My energy is low and even getting through my workouts takes more effort and focus than usual. It’s the end of May but it feels as if Spring has only just arrived.
So what’s a girl to do when it should be bright and sunny and warm outside, but instead it’s gray and dreary and chilly?
By some odd stroke of luck, I found a squash at the market and after getting caught in the rain while loading groceries, I knew what had to be done.
Squash & lentil stew.
This soup is thick and creamy and though it make taste and look like a complicated vegan bisque recipe, the truth is that this is an easy one-pot vegan soup that anyone can make at anytime.
Most days I know what I want to eat for lunch and that usually consists of some type of vegan salad. I’m not talking about your basic iceberg lettuce-tomato-cucumber combo, either. I’m talking a nice salad loaded up with vegetables, colors, vitamins and nutrients, but not with calories.
If you like quinoa, here is a salad for you. Do you prefer bulgur? Here is one for you. Get plenty of tips on how to make glorious vegan salads here.
But some days I’m not sure what I want and one of those days recently, an idea fell into my lap. We had just come from the grocery store where I found turnips with some lovely greens on top so I yanked the tops off of a few more bunches because that’s totally allowed here (and its free) and decided I would make some turnip greens at some point in the future. Then my mother-in-law showed up with a big bag of Monk’s Rhubarb, which I had honestly ever heard of before. But my father-in-law had already rinsed them so I nibbled on a leaf and realized I could add them to the turnip greens for more dark leafy greens.
From there, this vegan soul food lunch plate was born.
Why is it a lunch plate? That’s simple. If you find a soul food restaurant near you, chances are good there will be a lunch plate special that allows you to mix and match your favorite soul food menu items for one yummy lunch. In some areas, you might even find a entrepreneur offering them up around the neighborhood for a very good price.
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 I was a kid one of my favorite canned meals was spaghetti and meatballs. As a latch-key kid, there was nothign better than racing home from school to crack open a can of ravioli, spaghetti-o’s or spaghetti and meatballs. All of that tomato-y goodness that, in hindsight, wasn’t all that good, waiting to stain your lips and your microwave safe bowl!
Who could resist?
Not me, that’s for sure!
So, when I was walking the aisles of Lidl last week and noted that here in Romania they have started to up their vegan food choices game. I found Verdino brand meatballs and you know what I did, grabbed up the last package with a giddy smile. I knew then what I wanted.
What is that?
Well, let’s see. Combine my love of carbs, noodles and pasta with these vegan meatballs and what do you have? One of my childhood favorites, re-done for the fancy, grown-up vegan I am today.
This is one of those vegan dinner recipes that you can do the easy way or the tasty way. Just kidding, I’m sure your jarred pasta is super delicious, it’s just a little too sweet for my taste. But if anyone knows of any no sugar added options, I’m game to give it a try.
I have really been enjoying this way of choosing meals that my partner and I have undertaken for more than a year now. Inspired by the Netflix show, Midnight Tokyo Diner, the deal is simple: choose whatever you want to eat and the other person will make it as long as we have the ingredients. Substitutions and your own twist are allowed.
Cooking this way not only allows each of us to stretch our creative muscles in the kitchen, but it allows for unique twists on old favorites. And for us, it’s nice to recreate dishes we haven’t had since going vegan. Trust me when I tell you that it’s an exciting way to cook because you go to the grocery store, buy a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, grains, vegan alternatives and the like, and each night you get a surprise.
Given how life has been for the past 12-14 months, this is a great way to keep things from getting stale in the kitchen, especially if you have the unfortunate luck of living some place there aren’t a lot of vegan takeout food options. You have to do it yourself and we’ve become pretty good at it.
This night, the request was Cajun sausage and rice, one of my favorite dishes as a child. It has everything a good meal needs, rice, spice and a little bit of protein.
As you can see, the ingredient list for this vegan sausage and rice dish is quite simple.