Easy Vegan Meals: Crispy Korean Spiced Tofu & Rice

Even on days like this one, stuck in the house, sometimes this vegan just doesn’t feel like gettin’ down in the kitchen. But I have to eat because I love to eat and because, ya know, we all need it to survive and all that, it means one of us still has to cook.

That’s when easy vegan meals come in super handy.

These vegan meals are ALWAYS delicious (but that part is up to you) and flavorful and most of all simple. So simple that no amount of glossy photos will make it look any different, but since we’re all friends here and everyone knows that my photography skills could use some help, it’s cool. Right?

This particular easy vegan meal was one of our now classic Midnight Tokyo Diner meals. I asked for crispy Korean tofu and this is what he made.

What’s your favorite easy vegan meal when you don’t want takeout? I often choose something Asian inspired because there’s always rice or noodles so…carbs!

Roasted Aubergine & Zucchini Vegan Buddha Bowl

Buddha Bowls. What more can be said about them that hasn’t been said already?

They are packed with nutrients, but only if you pack’em.

They offer the spice of life…variety.

They can help you get your daily amount of grains, proteins and vegetables.

Personally, I LOVE Buddha Bowls. I love making them and I really love eating them.

So here we are, for another round of #vegan Buddha Bowl fun!

Chances are good that you’re aware of all the nutritional and health benefits of these fun bowls, but you’ve probably strayed away because they seem time intensive. Let me tell you that it’s really not all that time-consuming, at least not with a little bit of planning.

For this harissa roasted Buddha bowl, the oven will do all the work for you.

First thing you have to do is choose your: Veggies + Grain + Protein

I chose carrots, zucchini (for me) and eggplant (for him), cut into ‘steaks’ + Quinoa + Chickpeas

You’ll notice a little bit of blackness on the eggplant and other vegetables but rest assured, it’s because of the marinade which included: smoky paprika, oregano, salt & pepper, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic powder, curry, garam masala, spicy paprika and thyme. Whip it all up into a bowl and pour it all over the (scored, doesn’t it look so pretty?) veggies.

Roast in the oven on 200°C/400°F for about 20 minutes, or until they reached your desired level of tenderness or crispiness.

Cook your grain according to the packaging, I used a total of 100 grams of quinoa for 2 adults.

Now it’s time for the protein. CHICKPEAS!!!

Don’t you just love this wonderfully delicious and diverse legume? It makes great dips, falafels, goes excellent in salads or you can even season them and bake them up like nuts for a crunchy snack.

I made another spice blend using cayenne pepper, turmeric, smoky paprika, curry, salt, white pepper and a masala spice blend. But the only way to get the perfect bake is to make sure you dry the chickpeas completely after you’ve rinsed them. Then coat them with the spices and bake for about 25 minutes, less if you want less crunch.

Since each element of this vegan Buddha bowl was SO flavorful, I decided to skip the sauce this time around and let me tell you, the sauce would have taken away from the carefully planned spice profile.

Whenever I’m at a loss over what to make for dinner, I just grab a little of this and a little of that, and 45 minutes later you have a bowl full of yum!

Jamaican Inspired Vegan Navy Bean & Lentil Stew

I know what you’re thinking…it’s way too hot for stew. Right?

Don’t worry, I also agree. In fact I’d go even further, saying that I have a bit of a compulsion about foods and beverages being the “proper” temperature but we’re only here to talk about why I’m making any kind of stew in the middle of summer, never mind one that’s also spicy.

The easy answer is, the world as we know it.

Usually for lunch I make a salad. Sometimes it might be your garden variety salad, complete with lettuce, tomatoes, scallions and cucumbers, while other days I might toss in some proteins & grains, such as smoked tofu and bulgur, soy pieces and couscous, or my personal favorite a burrito or taco bowl, complete with hundreds of grams of lettuce and rice. When you’re vegan and far from home, that’s how you get Chipotle wherever you are in the world! But I digress. The point is that the state of the world means the markets don’t always have everything I need when I need it, so I improvise instead of making unnecessary trips to multiple stores.

Good enough? I hope so!

Now, back to the stew.

If you’re not into eating soup when it’s hot, and normally I’m not, you can eat this at room temperature or be a weirdo and eat it as gazpacho. I told you I had strong feelings about food/drink temps!

The ingredient list here is pretty simple: ginger, garlic, onion, navy beans, yellow lentils, green bell pepper, chives for garnish and no waste broth!

But you can go crazy with herbs and spices. Since I was going for a Jamaican inspired flavor profile, I used ground scotch bonnet pepper, jerk spice and baharat (a middle eastern spice blend) because I think it adds a delicious flavor that’s pretty unique. Feel free to use whatever spices you have on hand, but don’t be afraid to grab those cheap-o spice packets at the market to see what you like!

In addition to being healthy, vegan and delicious, this Jamaican stew is also a one pot meal!

That’s right, add the oil and chopped veggies (including ginger) to a stock pot and saute until slightly tender. Season as you go and when things are starting to look good, add the lentils and broth. Cook until the lentils are tender which may vary by stove and lentil brand/color/type. Then add in the navy beans. Rinse well with cold water if you use canned beans.

Top with chives or scallions if you want a garnish, otherwise enjoy it as it is.

Or, take that bread that might make it another day or two, mix up a spice blend with some oil or vegan butter, bake it and cut into dipping sticks!

Bread is totally optional, of course, and not really necessary. But when you weigh everything out, you can decide if you have calorie room for something that I love like…bread.

What’s your favorite stew? Share the recipe below and maybe I’ll give it a shot!

Quick & Easy Vegan Smoked Tofu Bowl

With what’s going on in the world lately, we all have to do what we can, right? That means some days or weeks I feel like a #vegan rock star in the kitchen, making my own seitan sausage and whipping up delicious meals while some days I just want something easy, delicious and nutritious. Like all of you, I’m complicated and that’s okay.

And yeah, sure that was my long winded way of saying this post is going to be short because this meal was delicious, easy to make and super fast.

This is one of the many reasons I love Buddha bowls, they are healthy and easy, two of my favorite things when I’m too busy or too lazy to spend time in the kitchen.

This particular bowl was SUPER easy, all you need is onion, bell pepper, garlic, smoked tofu and a grain of your choosing, the photo has bulgur in it. The sauce is a combination of tomato paste, soy sauce and Korean chili paste.

And don’t forget to hit up your spice rack to give this dish an Asian or Italian flair, or whatever you’re in the mood for.

Not every vegan meals needs to be IG worthy, but sometimes they accidentally are! (Hit me up at IndyJaxn if you want to see for yourself.)

What’s your favorite go-to vegan meal?

Seitan Gyro Bowl & Tofu Tzatziki

Since I have a lot of time on my hands, being mostly stuck indoors these days, I’ve developed quite the fascination with seitan. You can make all manner of vegan proteins from sausages to steaks, ribs, burgers and patties. If you have a proper spice rack, worthy of a grown up vegan, you won’t have to worry about a thing.

There are tons of seitan recipes online and you can switch up the seasoning to get whatever type of cuisine you prefer.

The seitan recipe I use is pretty simple: 30 grams of gluten flour, 7 grams nutritional yeast, herbs & spices as desired, oil and water. Mix dry ingredients first and taste, add more seasoning as needed. Then mix in wet and shape into whatever food you want. Wrap it in foil and simmer for 45 minutes and that is it.

Now, the rest of the bowl is even easier. Sauteed oyster mushrooms, bell peppers and onion with Greek or Mediterranean seasoning if you want to achieve that classic gyro flavor. Add a grain like rice or bulgur and you’re good to go!

And we can forget the famous cucumber yogurt sauce known as tzatziki sauce. The market was out of my favorite veggiegurt last week so I had to improvise and I did, using left over tofu in brine. I took the tofu, mint, lemon zest and juice, parsley and basil to make a cooling agent, though it wasn’t spicy so cooling wasn’t quite the goal just…flavor.

You can skip this sauce if you want or you can enhance the spice so you can truly enjoy it properly.

This is by no means an authentic dish, but it’s no secret that I can turn pretty much any cuisine into a Buddha bowl!

What’s your favorite Buddha Bowl?

Vegan Tuna Casserole

Full disclosure: there is no tuna, vegan or otherwise in this dish.

Think of it more as an essence of tuna casserole because that’s what it is, but this vegan dish contains all the things you miss about this dish without any of the things you could do without.

Instead of tuna or vegan tuna products, I went with simple brown mushrooms. Sauteed in a pan until crisp on the edges and yummy.

Choose a noodle, cheese sauce and bread crumb topping and you’re good to go!

I opted for a creamy cheese sauce that used unsweetened oat milk and half the amount of cheese as similar vegan recipes, some of which might recommend coconut milk. Choose what fits your palate and your diet.

Bake it for 20 to 35 minutes in the oven, until the top is crispy brown and some of the noodles have a crunch.

The only thing missing? An ice cold drink, fit for a grownup.

 

Cheesy Vegan Broccoli Mac

During these endless days when one calendar day turns into the next, sometimes you get the urge to enjoy some comfort food. But you’re also an adult which means you have to eat your greens and your veggies.

So, what do you do?

One of my personal favorites is mac & cheese. Now it’s true that I’m not a huge fan of the vegan cheese options currently available to me but I am a huge fan of vegan béchamel sauce with just a pinch of cheese, and it turns out it was just what my mac & cheese dishes were missing to satisfy that craving.

Just like the mac & cheese you used to eat as a child, this dish is easy and (relatively) quick to make.

This was my third or fourth attempt to perfect my béchamel sauce, alternating between Alpro almond and soya milks in search of a slightly higher fat content to get that thick creaminess I was in search of. The unsweetened soya is better than the almond in terms of fat but not necessarily taste, at least to me.

The ingredient list for this dish is pretty simple:

Pasta (I prefer whole wheat, choose what you like)

Broccoli

Mushrooms

Garlic

Soy milk

Nutritional Yeast

Vegan butter (I used olive oil)

Flour

Water

Make the pasta according to the instructions but if you prefer to bake your pasta before you serve it, cook it a minute or two shy if your preferred doneness. Steam the broccoli and set aside.

For the mushrooms you can saute them on a high heat on top of the stove or season them and bake’em until the moisture is gone. The choice is yours since it’s your time, after all.

The sauce is the most time consuming part and if you want it really thick and flavorful, take your time here. Add fat (vegan butter or oil) and flour. I added a few cloves of minced garlic to the oil and let it cook until fragrant before adding the flour. Once the flour and fat mix starts to brown you can go straight for the liquid (water or milk) or you can do like I did and get fancy with it!

Before adding the liquid, I added a teaspoon (or more) of the following: mustard, Worcestershire sauce, tomato paste and Sriracha. It’ll get good and sizzle-y and then its time to add the liquid. Note: You can alternate water and milk if you need a bigger batch of sauce without all the calories, but if you take it easy on the vegan cheese you’ll find the soy milk is pretty calorie friendly.

Once the liquid is in, keep a steady stir over a low heat, adding vegan cheese and nutritional yeast in alternating spoonfuls. A little bubbling is good but if it’s too much, turn down the heat. Add turmeric for that yellow American cheese color and smoky paprika for that smoky, grown up cheesy flavor!

If you choose, pop it in the oven for about 15 minutes, then cool and serve.

With a blackberry & mint margarita!

Cheers and pofta buna and please, pretty please…stay safe!!!

#TBT ~ Vegan Fried Chick’n & Spaghetti

Hey there!

Today’s post will be a quick one, just to help me get back into the swing of things. I hope you’re all well and still on your vegan, plant based, cruelty-free, healthy journey.

Now let’s talk about one of my most cherished memories with my grandmother. When I finished graduated school I spent a couple months living with my grandmother while adjusting to life off of a college campus and trying to find a job in a pretty terrible economy, which meant that many of my Friday nights were spent at home. Chillin’ with my granny.

I didn’t mind it, in fact I loved it. I’d hop in the car and make the short drive over to J&J Fish (a staple any Chicagoan can tell you about) and grab whatever we wanted, usually catfish for me and perch for her. But sometimes my granny would surprise me with fried chicken and her famous spaghetti. At the time I just called it a basic meat sauce but it’s really more of a bolognese. Anyway, fried chick’n and spaghetti was our Friday night ritual and since we’re 8,000 miles apart right now, the meal will have to suffice.

This is a fairly easy meal but in the spirit of honesty, my husband made this meal as requested by me for our Midnight Tokyo Diner meal! But it took him about 45 minutes from start to finish and the most time consuming part was re-hydrating and then frying the TVP.

All you need is whole wheat spaghetti, onion, bell pepper, garlic & tomatoes plus whatever herbs & spices you like. And some extra large TVP pieces.

Sometimes you want a meal to make you feel something, to transport you someplace other than your weight loss or fitness goals and that’s okay. Let yourself enjoy this amazing way we get to nourish our bodies.

Just remember, nourishment and fuel first.

I hope you enjoyed my Throwback Thursday meal…what’s your favorite comforting meal?

Catching Up in My Vegan Kitchen…from Romania!

It’s been awhile and I know it. I’m sorry. I hope everyone is safe, indoors and finding fun ways to keep busy.

The truth is that I have been cooking, quite a bit lately, I’ve just been very lazy about writing up posts and selecting photos. Some days I just forgot to take photos altogether, but I don’t want that to turn into a habit, so let’s play a little bit of catch up, shall we?

I rarely posts desserts, not because I don’t make them because I do…a lot. But I am not a good food photographer, not yet anyway. But this little creation was chocolate biscuits (#accidentallyvegan), ripe bananas, peanut butter, cocoa powder and dark brown sugar with orange zest on top. Layered. It’s pretty to look at and it was a crowd-pleaser for vegans and non-vegans alike.

I know it’s spring time and not really the season for soups but one night my husband chose French onion soup as his Midnight Tokyo Diner option which meant I had to make it because sneaky man that he is, made sure there were heaps of yellow and white onions in the pantry.

I think it came out pretty well, probably the best I’ve made so far even thought it was greasier than I would’ve liked. Soon I’ll do a post with the full recipe because I think you might like it.

Gyro night!!! This was a fun night and yeah, you bet your sweet little booty that it was also time-consuming. Making seitan is never a quick endeavor but this was SO worth it. So. Worth. It.

As I always tell my non-vegan friends, proteins are always about the seasonings. Try to eat any protein without salt & pepper. Or any type of sausage without garlic or cumin or caraway. This seitan gyro loaf was no different. I used fennel, garlic, smoky paprika, cumin, fenugreek, ancho chili pepper and a bunch of other spices to get the loaf just right. To round the vegan gyros out, I used mushrooms and onions sauteed with the seitan after it’s simmering session.

Balsamic salad on the side with a vegan lemon and cucumber yogurt sauce, and this vegan gyro night was super fun!

And no list of what I’ve been cooking is complete without some type of Asian creation and this time we have Pho. I used TVP which, in my opinion, is a feat of genius. Seriously, I call it Star Trek meat, a name that never fails to make my husband laugh. It takes on the flavor of whatever you want it to so easily, in this case the yummy spices of a vegan Pho broth. Soy and balsamic soaked crimini mushrooms and generic ramen noodles round out this dish.

The real question is…what have you been up to? Cooking? Relaxing? Trying not to freak out?

From Vegan Dirty Rice to Dirty Fried Rice

So the title is pretty self-explanatory and I forgot to take photos when the Hubs made his delicious vegan dirty rice with kidney beans and veggies and plenty of spices, but I did take photos of my re-mix with the leftovers.

Take your dirty rice out of the fridge and grab a brick of firm tofu while you’re in there. Crumble the tofu and season it like you mean it. Scramble it up in a lightly oiled pan and then toss in the leftover dirty rice.

Toss until everything is coated and yummy. I added a tablespoon of Sriracha and the juice of one lime before tossing.

I also tossed in about a quarter up of green peas because I love the little peas and carrots you get in Chinese takeout!

Don’t forget the soy sauce and any other garnishes you deem necessary.

Spicy Asian Vegan Beef & Pasta

I hope everyone is all right out there, wherever you are in the world.

Today’s post is another installment of our very own Tokyo Diner and in the spirit of competitive fun, extra time on our hands and a love of mushrooms, I gave my husband two ingredients: crimini mushrooms & Beyond Burger.

This is what he came up with.

This dish was one of my favorites because it has two of my favorite elements: Asian flavor and pasta. I have never and will never deny my love of carbs and since my Hubs knows that, he found another tasty creation.

This will work with any type of pasta, but remember my aforementioned love of pasta? Well it means I’m always on the look out for unique shapes of pasta so that I can experiment with different sauces. This pasta is called caserecce and this is what it looks like.

Cook the pasta according to the instructions and he says to do it last. I’ll tell you why in a moment.

Chop and cook the Beyond Beef first so you can use the rendered fat to cook the mushrooms in. He cooked it over a medium-low heat and I swear to you, the difference was in the taste. The mushrooms had a nice richness to go with the crispy edges that just upped the taste factor on this dish by…a lot. I might be biased, though.

When the mushrooms have reached the done-ness you prefer, add the Beyond burger back to the skillet and toss in minced garlic.

That’s it.

Okay well not totally, but the only thing left to do is make the sauce and it was also pretty simple.

Hoisin sauce, vegan Worcestershire, cornstarch, tomato paste and Shaoxing vinegar. Oh, and water. Mix it in a bowl and toss it over the mushroom mix and let simmer. When the pasta is ready add it straight from the water into the sauce. Stir until blended and it’s time to nom-nom.

There is one thing left to talk about: the spice. I always prefer my dishes on the spicier side but he can only handle so much and there was about a tablespoon of spicy Romanian pepper paste in it and it worked well because it’s way too salty on it’s own, but its the perfect thing to finish off a dish…if your tongue can handle it.

What are you cooking while you’re at home? ARE you cooking more or eating quick & easy?

Easy Vegan Cherry Crumble

I hope everyone is doing well, wherever you are in the world. Stay indoors and stay safe.

Most of all, while you’re stuck inside don’t be afraid to spend some time in the kitchen like I’ve been doing. Okay, sure I tend to spend some of my rare free time in the kitchen and this time it was for a sweet vegan treat.

The truth is that I make desserts more than I post them because my husband has a wicked sweet tooth and it lets me practice playing with the proportions to reduce sugar and fat without changing the consistency. Anyway the problem with my vegan desserts is that they don’t photograph well. They taste good, at least according to him, but they rarely look good on camera.

Today my cherry crumble has broken the mold. Badump-ump?

No?

Okay, on to the vegan cherry crumble recipe, then.

The ingredients are pretty simple:

Frozen Morello cherries

Brown Sugar

Corn starch

Oats

Cinnamon

Puffed Millet

Petit Beurre biscuits (accidentally vegan!)

Lemon (peel & juice)

Coconut oil (or whatever you’ve got on hand)

Toss the cherries with a tablespoon or two of brown sugar, lemon juice & corn starch. Set aside.

Mix the oats, millet, cinnamon and biscuits with a tablespoon of sugar and vegan butter of your choice. I used Becel because that’s what the market has.

Mix it all together with your hands, slowly adding the butter until you get a crumbly mixture.

Place the cherries in the bottom of a pre-oiled baking dish and sprinkle the crumble mixture evenly on top. Bake 35-45 minutes until it is golden brown and crispy on top and bubbly underneath.

Let it cool slightly and then dig in!

What desserts are you making while you’re inside all day?

Colorful Vegan Buddha Bowl

Sometimes you just want a Buddha bowl. At least I do.

And when I want a Buddha bowl, I can go a little crazy with piling veggies onto the plate. I make no apologies.

The key to making a proper bowl is prep work. And an awesome spice rack.

The first step is to pull out all the ingredients you’ll need so you have some semblance of organization as you move forward. I wanted distinct flavors that blended well so I started with the ingredients with the longest cook times; sweet potatoes, cauliflower and carrots. Toss them with oil or vegan yogurt and seasoning and toss them into a pre-heated oven.

We have lots of colorful veggies with the carrots and sweet potatoes but we can’t forget the most important color: dark leafy greens.

Okay, maybe Bok Choy isn’t all that dark green but it is packed with nutrients and it is super delicious. Saute with leeks, ginger and garlic, a flavor profile that will combine with just about any cuisine style you choose. And then, if you must have grains…have your grains! I added about 60 grams of bulgur to this recipe because I always feel better with some grains on my plate.

Sauces are mandatory and I don’t always make one when I make a Buddha bowl but the carrots came with really amazing greens and there was basil and mint in the fridge, so I added lemon and capers and vegan yogurt for a refreshing sauce that allowed me to add a bit more spice to the different vegetables in the bowl.

Toss it all into the food processor and let’em rip. It’s worth the extra step, I swear!

Don’t make the same mistake I did and ignore the timers or you’ll end up with slightly charred bits of vegetables. It was still tasty but I’d rather not eat charcoal, if you know what I’m saying.

Buddha bowls can take time but I promise that prep work will be your best friend at the end of the day. And you don’t have to add quite so many vegetables as I did, but ever since I started using Chronometer, I’m obsessed with hacking my diet to get a greater variety of nutrients to each plate. The best part of all is that the oven does most of the work, the bulgur cooks in 10 minutes which gives you about 15 to properly saute your favorite dark leafy greens.

It’s an hour well spent in the kitchen in my opinion but if you want to chop that time in half, skip the greens and the grains…but seriously, don’t skip either. Your body needs them.

Ginger Mushroom Stir Fry

First let’s start with some good news: my book is out! Yay! It took a long time, much longer than it should but that was then and now it’s done and I’m super duper excited…can you tell?

But that means things have been busy. Crazy busy in fact but that’s when it’s most important to eat healthy and right. Right? At least for me it is. My weight loss goal is in sight, I feel good and I need a lot of energy to give this round of book promo the old college try.

So for this recipe I relied heavily on my spice rack. Aside from curries and stews, stir-fries are on my list of easy go-to meals when you’ve got a fridge full of vegetables and no game plan. Even if you do have a game plan but you change your mind, grab a few key ingredients and you’re good to go.

Since I love ginger and we had about a kilo of cap mushrooms, ginger mushroom stir fry seemed like the perfect quick and easy vegan meal.

The ingredients don’t matter a lot when it comes to a good stir fry so just follow these tips:

Cut the vegetables in a uniform-ish size. This helps with cooking and eating later.

Cook the vegetables that take the longest first, adding them by cook time if you use a wok

Prep your starter herbs & spices: ginger, garlic & onions

This dish consisted of leeks, mushrooms, bell peppers, garlic, cauliflower & ginger. You can add tofu or beans or whatever else you want but with the rice it was plenty satisfying and the sauce really brought it all together.

A good stir fry sauce doesn’t have to come from a jar, all you need is tomato paste, soy sauce, corn starch and your favorite herbs and spices. I like to add spicy Korean chili flakes, cumin or cardamom, garam masala, Hoisin, Sambal or sriracha just to name a few. The point is to experiment and see what you like. Add some fresh orange zest and juice to give your vegan stir fry an General Tso’s flavor!

And there you have it, another thirty minute vegan meal you can enjoy any night of the week. Or, if you’re feeling very creative, every night of the week!

Vegan Mac & Cheese Dinner

I have a well documented love-hate relationship with vegan cheese that, on most days, is more hate than anythings. It’s a variety of factors that include the smell which I know is both odd and hypocritical since I used to love nothing better than a wedge of Camembert (or Brie) in my pre-vegan days. But that’s what it is. The taste is usually pretty good and over the years the vegan cheese market as really stepped up its game. It all depends on what’s available in your area and those of you in places like Berlin, Los Angeles or London probably have a wealth of choices.

Here in Romania I have…three.

Anyway it turns out that I’m one of those people who, without the aide of casomorphin, isn’t a fan of cheese. But it was Tokyo Diner Night once again and the Hubs made a request: mac & cheese.

Oh…what’s a cheese disliking vegan to do?

Improvise, of course!

The rules of this fun game are always the same.

Number one: As long as we have the ingredients, we make it.

Number two: Make it your own.

And that’s just what I did, turned mac & cheese into a creamy vegan mac & cheese dinner with…

Spicy buffalo soy bites!

This part of the recipe is as easy as the Mac. Hydrate the soy in your favorite broth, I had leftover mushroom broth and I added a smashed clove of garlic while it simmered. Add the soy to a hot skillet and turn frequently until the edges start to crisp. Melt vegan butter and your favorite hot sauce, garlic & onion granules and a splash of vinegar and toss the soy. Put in an oven safe dish and set aside.

Just steam or blanch the broccoli for 3 to 5 minutes and set aside.

For the cheese, I consulted an old Welsh Rarebit recipe that I LOVE and used that as inspiration to keep with the spirit of mac & cheese without getting to cheesy about it.

Before we get to the roux, I cooked 30 grams of minced garlic in the skillet and then added the roux.

Start with a roux of vegan butter (in this instance the more fat it has and the less water, the better) and flour. Stir until brown and then add a teaspoon up to a tablespoon of tomato paste and dijon mustard, 1/2 tablespoon of vegan Worcestershire sauce and stir like you mean it. Slowly add a fatty-ish liquid of your choice, I used unsweetened roasted almond milk from Alpro. I love it because it is very low in calories and has a faintly almond taste that doesn’t overpower the dish. It sounds like a shameless plug but it’s not, I just like it best.

Whisk the liquid in slowly until the liquid starts to thicken. If you need to add more, you can alternate between the liquid and water like I did. Or if you’re feeling impatient, use a cornstarch-water mix to thicken it quickly.

Once the liquid starts to thicken, I added about 50 grams of vegan cheese. It was Mediterranean flavored and it had a parm/Romano taste that was really delicious. It was a vegan mac & cheese but…not. It was creamy and yummy and faintly cheesy but the hubs gave it two big thumbs up so…try it maybe?

If you have access to really good melty vegan cheese, use that. But if you want to have the cheesy flavor without the calories too, try this method and you won’t be disappointed.

Toss the pasta, cheese and broccoli together and pop it in a 400F/200C oven for 17-20 minutes and after a brief cooling period, you’re good to  chow down.

What’s your favorite vegan cheese brand? Drop links below…bonus points if they deliver in Europe!

Easy Vegan Meals In A Pinch ~ Mix & Match Asian

If you were to listen to some of the conversations I have with my friends you notice two things. The first is that I often sound like a broken record because, well what’s true is…true. The second is that they have a hard time understanding how I overcome my love of variety while eating a vegan diet. (Now the broken record thing makes sense, doesn’t it?)

But other than frustration those conversations were the inspiration for today’s post. Well that and the actual meal itself.

Variety, on any diet, starts with your spice rack/cabinet/drawer or whatever, at least in my opinion. If you have a fully developed space for herbs and spices you can turn mashed potatoes (for example) into curry mashed potatoes. Or Asian inspired fries. It is also how a healthy vegan can eat everything and never, ever get bored.

Even when it’s the day before grocery day and you realize your cute little Tokyo diner idea means you sometimes run out of food earlier, and you simply have to make do with what’s on hand.

There were two directives for this particular meal: Asian & Mushrooms.

That made things easy. Sort of. There was about 300 grams of mixed brown & white mushrooms in the fridge along with half a head of cauliflower, bell peppers and scallions, which I love to put in my salads. Not the most exciting ingredients but this is where your spice rack won’t let you down.

Start with Asian basics: garlic, ginger and lemongrass. I find lemongrass pretty hard to find around here and the only grocery store in my town that has it is inside a mall which is a big heaping helping of no thanks for me unless we need to stock up on vegan junk food like cheese and luncheon style slices. So let’s stick with garlic and ginger. Add any or all of the following: soy sauce (or Worcestershire if you want to change it up a bit), tomato paste, lime juice, Sriracha, chili peppers, sesame seeds, miso paste. Take your ingredients and put them in a small mixing bowl. Add a starch & water mix to it and when the veggies are ready, toss it on top.

Boil, then simmer until thick and serve it over rice. Delicious Asian style vegan food in 30 minutes. Totally doable.

Your spice rack will never let you down and if you have a cabinet full of grains, you can experiment with different types of rice or you can test out different Asian noodles with recipes like this.

Tweak the ingredients and you can turn this into an Indian or Thai style curry. Add lemon and herbs instead and turn this into a Mediterranean style veggie & rice dish.  The point is to experiment, get creative and hit up the Google Machine for inspiration. It’s out there and once you start, you won’t be able to go back.

If you want to add extra spice…don’t be afraid to dice up a jalapeno or any other spicy pepper and toss it in with the other veggies. Or if you’re cooking for those who can’t handle the heat, it’s a perfect garnish when mixed with mint and parsley.

Spicy Asian Tofu & Broccoli (AKA Vegan beef & broccoli)

When I’m in a bind or a rut, Asian is my go-to cuisine. Udon, Soba or Ramen noodles? Yes please. A little bit of Thai Curry? Fo sho! Pho? Gimme some more!

But sometimes you want something simple. Something easy. And sometimes you find the perfect head of broccoli and you know exactly what you want to make with it. Enter a dish I haven’t eaten or thought about since the funky Asian joint in the small town I grew up in America. Beef & Broccoli.

This is by no means my favorite dish in the vast world of Asian cuisine but it is something I’ve always loved because, broccoli. I’ve always been a fan and this is one of the few dishes where they give you loads of it. Not just a few florets inside a stir-fry, I’m talking enough broccoli to make you worry about noises for the rest of the night.

The thing I love about this dish is that it isn’t just easy, it’s pretty quick to make as well.

What you’ll need: TVP (or textured soya protein), Broccoli (as much of it as you can stand), Garlic, Ginger, Scallions, Rice, Soy sauce & Korean chili flakes.

Feel free to add onion or bell peppers or any other vegetables you want, I was just really in the mood for something simple and delicious.

Don’t be afraid to use the stalk of the broccoli either. You might have to peel some of the tough outer skin but it’s totally edible and pretty delicious. In fact, I’m thinking of testing out some vegan broccoli chips sometime in the near future so stay tuned!

The key to any good vegan beef & broccoli is the sauce. You’ll need soy sauce, corn starch (or whichever starch you’re most comfortable using), rice wine vinegar, sesame oil or Chinese black vinegar. Choose wisely and don’t be afraid to test out new styles….that’s how good things happen on a plate!

You can add rice or noodles to this dish for a different flavor or texture, and pair it with something cold like an icy beer or a fun cocktail. Either way, enjoy your vegan beef & broccoli with a smile & a beverage.

What’s your favorite takeout dish to recreate at home?

30-Minute Vegan Potato Curry

Since it’s Friday and the week has flown by (edits are done!) I decided to keep today’s recipe quick and easy. Two of my favorite things when it comes to a good healthy vegan meal because as much as I love to cook, some days you just want to sit down.

And some days your Tokyo Diner idea seems daunting and you say something like, “Just make me a curry. Spicy and with potatoes.” That was the directive I gave to the Hubs and this easy potato curry was his brain child. And bonus points on this recipe because if you felt so inclined, you could pop all the ingredients into a slow cooker on low for 5 to 7 hours. Cook the rice separately but more on that later.

Get your cutting board and your favorite knife because there’s plenty of chopping to be done!

This recipe really is simple, especially if you’ve ever whipped up a curry at home. Grab your favorite pre-made curry spice blend or mix your own and set it aside. Chop up: onion, ginger, bell pepper, garlic, potatoes, cauliflower & tomatoes. My husband prefers fresh tomatoes always so he did that but you can use canned tomatoes. When I use canned, I prefer stewed tomatoes. They’re juicier and the flavor is better in my opinion.

Add some oil to a deep skillet or water if you’re going oil-free and toss in everything but the cauliflower and garlic since they have very short cook times and will burn (garlic) or turn soggy (cauliflower) quickly.

I like to let the veggies cook a bit before I add anything other than salt & pepper, stirring frequently.

Once the veggies start to soften, add the rest and cook uncovered 3 to 5 minutes giving everything a regular stir. Then place the cover on the skillet and let it cook–undisturbed–for a few minutes. Do this until your vegetables reach desired done-ness and don’t be afraid to give the potatoes or cauliflower a fork-test if necessary. It’s your kitchen, do what you want!

The tomatoes go in last and you’ll want to cook them until the juice has been absorbed, leaving a nice thick sauce. Since he insisted on using fresh tomatoes there wasn’t much sauce, so adjust your cooking time to account for that if you do.

Pair it with rice or Naan. Most of the time I prefer naan bread because I love it and I miss it, but I miss it because it is pretty difficult to find vegan naan bread here in Romania and even in Germany too. For some odd reason there’s milk powder in most store bought naan bread, so if you know if any good vegan brands please give me names and links!

Since it was a light day with a salad for lunch and this calorie friendly dinner, I enjoyed a nice Harmin with it…to cool down the extra jalapeno peppers I put on mine!